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Forever Homes: What to Look for When Buying a Home

Did you know that property is consistently the best investment for your money?

Whether you're buying a family home for the long-term or a house to keep you near San Diego for the next few years, putting your money into property is always a good idea. But, finding the right home for you isn't always an easy task.

If you're hunting for your first home, there's a lot you need to learn! To help you out, we've put together our top tips for what to look for when buying a home, making your house hunting journey that little bit easier.

Let's dive into it.

Before You Start House Hunting

The rest of our advice is going to focus on what to look for while you're in the middle of house hunting, but there are a few pieces of advice we wanted to share before you get started. 

First, know your budget. Knowing how much a mortgage lender will be happy to loan you is a must before you even think of viewing a property. It'll help you narrow your search and prevent the heartbreak of falling for a home that's out of your price range.

We also recommend that you read up on how the process of buying a home works. Learn all the jargon, from debt-to-income ratio to conveyancing, so that you're prepared for all the hurdles. 

Finally, it's a good idea to know what you want. Write up a list of must-haves, along with things you'd like but could sacrifice. Your realtor will be very grateful if you come prepared with a list, and you'll reduce time wasted looking at properties you're not interested in. 

Location, Location, Location

For most people, location is absolutely vital when looking for a home! If you're not familiar with San Diego, it could be a good idea to learn more about the neighborhoods before settling on a few you'd be happy to live in. Look at anything relevant to you, including:

  • Schools
  • Job opportunities
  • Public transport and commuter links
  • Local entertainment and dining
  • Shopping
  • Green spaces

Location is one of the very few things you can't change when buying a home, so we don't usually recommend compromising on it. If you know you like a quiet neighborhood, stick to areas like Mission Hills or University Heights, and avoid areas like Pacific Beach or Downtown, for example. It's just not worth compromising on!

Short-Term and Long-Term Size Needs

When looking for a home in San Diego, it's smart to consider the immediate future and your longer-term needs. If you know you want children in the next few years, for example, it's a good idea to pick a home with plenty of space for your family to grow in. If remote working has been in your head for some time, carve out some office space just in case you take the plunge.

Questions we encourage our clients to consider include:

  1. Will you be happy with everything on one floor, or will you want multiple floors?
  2. Have you considered the need for extra rooms in the future?
  3. Or, will you need fewer rooms in the near future?
  4. Will you want to renovate and rearrange the space you have?

Make sure your home suits your needs both right now and in the future. 

Always Check Home Amenities

If you're prepared to do a lot of work when you put an offer on a home, the state of the amenities won't matter much. Bathtubs and dishwashers are easy to replace! But, if you'd like a home you can live in comfortably straight away, they shouldn't be overlooked.

Focus particularly on the amenities that might be more difficult to change, like large garden features or kitchen spotlights. If you don't like them, is it in your budget to change them? If it isn't, you might have to consider looking elsewhere.

The Structural Integrity of Your Property

House hunting isn't always fun, and this is definitely one of the least interesting but most essential things to look out for! The structural integrity of your home's foundations is incredibly important. Miss any warning signs, and you could be in for a nasty bill down the line.

Look out for cracks in the walls, bulging or bowing walls, signs of dampness, and sagging in the roof. These are all signs that the home's foundations could be in need of some costly TLC.

Keep an Eye on the Roof

The roof is one of the most expensive areas of the home when things go wrong. It's smart to do a quick check of its condition before you make an offer on a property. Check for loose or missing tiles, pooling water, invading animals, and poor installation. 

Fortunately, a professional inspector will be able to check the state of the roof and the property's foundations for you, making your job a little easier. But if you can spot any signs of damage before you reach that step, you're bound to save money.

Overwhelming Scents Are a Warning Sign

This isn't the case 100% of the time, but an overly fragranced house could be an indicator of an underlying problem. Whenever we walk into a home that smells of candles, air fresheners, and freshly baked cookies all at once, we're on high alert! If the owners are taking so many measures to keep the house smelling nice, they could be hiding something.

Take a deep breath in every room to check for underlying scents. It's also a good idea to check the smell outside of the house in the neighborhood. If the home is right next to a smelly sewage line, there's not much you'll be able to do on a hot summer's day! 

Are There Signs of Maintenance Issues?

Most people want to move into a house that's been well looked after. If the previous tenants cared for the property, it's likely that you'll have far fewer issues to deal with when you move in - aside from design differences, of course.

As you walk through the house, keep an eye not only on cleanliness but on longer-term maintenance, too. Peeling paint, signs of mold, and rusty faucets are all signs that the home might be in need of some TLC. If they've ignored these issues, what else might they have swept under the rug?

On the other hand, a home that looks very well-maintained and kept to a high standard should give you some peace of mind. Of course, there may be cracks beneath the surface, but a surveyor will find those.

Have You Met the Neighbors?

Another thing that you can't change about a house is who you'll live next to. It might not be possible, but if you can meet the neighbors, then do so!

If you spot them when they take out their trash or head out to walk their dog, stop them for a quick chat to say hello and introduce yourself. Ask them more about the neighborhood and the people living in the area, or just engage in a bit of small talk to get a feel for their personality. Your neighbors can make or break an area, and we'd always encourage talking to them first if possible.

For those of you who don't get the chance to meet your potential neighbors, you can check out social media pages for your area to gauge what it's like. Are people friendly and helpful, or do they report a lot of trouble and anti-social behavior? Take time to do some research before buying, and you'll thank yourself for it.

Do You Feel at Home in the House?

For many house hunters, when you know, you know. Once you've looked for cracks in the walls and any lingering smells that could indicate some big problems, it's time to sit back and ask yourself do I feel at home here? If you're not sure that you do, this property probably isn't the one for you.

Remember, though, that it can take coming back again to settle into the space. We see many clients go away unsure, only for the property to keep playing on their minds, and when they come back for a second visit, they're sold! 

However it works for you, trust your gut. It usually knows best.

Learn More About What to Look For When Buying a Home

When it comes to what to look for when buying a home, we could go on for days. There's a lot to be aware of that will help you secure a home you'll love for years! However, it can be a little overwhelming.

If you want to make the process of finding a beautiful home in San Diego easier, our realtors are here to help. With expert knowledge of the area and plenty of years surveying homes, we can guide you through your house hunting and secure your dream property. To learn more, get in touch with our team today.

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