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Copyright 2007

House Hunting Tips

As exciting as the idea of owning a new home is, it can also be overwhelming when you see all the houses listed in the paper and real estate agent windows. So how do you know what to look for in the houses you visit?

General Tips

Try to visit the house under different conditions. That way you can check if it leaks during rain, if it is dark on a dull day, whether heaters and lights work at night and so forth.

Ignore the state of the house. It really doesn’t matter if it is spotless or a bit messy – look beyond that to the actually house and its potential.


* Turn on the taps in the bathroom and kitchen. Does the water flow? Can you hear pipes thumping? What colour is the water? Does the pressure drop when you put on the taps in the bath and basin at the same time?

* Also check on the hot water taps – is the water hot? Does it take a long time to heat up? Keep in mind, though, that a vacant house may not have the power on or may not had had hot water used for a while.

* Jump on the floor in each room, both in the centre and near the edges. Listen for squeaking and feel for sagging boards that may indicate a need for restumping.

* Open cupboard and wardrobe doors. Are they easy to open and close? Have the doors warped or the frames moved?

* Open and shut doors between rooms, too. Check they swing and fit into the doorways. It may be a case of a door being too big, or it could show there has been a lot of movement in the house which has shifted the door frame.

* Look for cracks in the walls – or new plaster patches hiding cracks. Again, a lot of cracks show that the house has moved.

* Open and shut windows. Do they glide easily? DO they have locks? How about flyscreens?

* Look at the space for a fridge. Is it a small space? Are there other paces you could put a fridge? Estimate if your current fridge will fit in the space. Space for a fridge mightn’t seem like a big deal, but in a small kitchen it is very frustrating to not fit one in.

*  Have a look under the carpet, especially if it isn’t carpet you’d lie to keep. The easiest way to look is by lifting a ducted heating vent as carpet isn’t attached there. A quick look will show you if polished floorboards are an option or if new carpet or such will be needed.


* Look up. Does the roof look to be in good shape? Does it need a good clean? How are the gutters?

* Check under the house. Are the foundations wooden or concrete? Do they look ok? You don’t have to be an expert to pick the dodgy foundations in some houses!

* Is there a lawn? If not, can you see why not? For instance, is no grass growing because the land is too wet or too shaded by a neighbour’s house?

* Are there fences around the house? What condition are they in?

* For a weatherboards house, look at the boards, especially under the eaves and at the corners. Are the weatherboards healthy? Or are they showing signs of rot?

* For a brick house, look for any cracks along the lines. Cracks could indicate a lot of movement in the foundations. Be aware that the drought over recent years has increased the amount of movement as the ground has dried so much.

* If there is a pool or pond or some sort, make sure it is enclosed by its own fence whether you have children or not. It may be wise to get pool fence guidelines from the local council before viewing houses you know have a pool.

 Remember that all of these issues are repairable. Checking out these points isn’t so much to stop you buying a particular property but to make you aware of what you are buying. If there are a number of problems to be fixed, you will need to budget for that before you set a purchase price.

Having looked at all these factors and feeling uncertain about the worth of the property, hire a builder or professional valuer to give you a report on what would be involved in repairing the house.

Tash Hughes is a Mum of two in Melbourne. She is also a writer and owner of Word Constructions. Tash is available to write articles and profiles for any business, as well as doing other business documentation projects. You can see her site and services at www.wordconstructions.com






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