Almost everyone tours multiple homes before making a purchase, and they can start to blur together. The listing printouts from Zillow or the MLS can only tell you so much. If you want to make the best house purchase possible, print out and follow along with our ultimate home tour checklist. You’ll look like a professional as you evaluate the area, exterior, interior, and essential fixtures. Soon, you’ll know exactly which home is right for you.
The home basics and surrounding area:
General home information. Note the address, listing price, square footage, land size, and bedroom / bathroom quantity. These are all metrics that can be used to make sure you have a fair listing price compared to other properties.
The neighborhood. This is rarely examined in detail while you visit a property. Check for parks, gas stations, well-lit streets, and high quality neighboring homes. When online, look at crime rates, schools, and access to major freeways or public services like hospitals and fire departments.
Before moving onto the actual home, take some additional notes about your first impressions. Did the property size fit your expectations when you saw it in person? Do you feel like you could raise your family in the neighborhood? Leave plenty of space in the notes section for the rest of the walkthrough.
The driveway and the garage. Check the condition of the pavement, and note any serious issues. Mark down the size of the garage, and the condition of the door. These can be expensive repairs.
The roof. Hopefully you can see at least a portion of the roof. If you’re serious about a larger home with a lot of square footage, a friend with a drone might save you some time! How does it look? Are there any glaring discolorations, missing shingles, or something more concerning? This warrants a roof inspection if you move forward.
The siding and fencing. You may have block, brick, wood, or vinyl siding. Look for rots or cracks. Do the same with the fence, and see if it might need to be replaced any time soon.
The windows. These can be expensive repairs. Look at the condition of the glass, screens, and caulking. Find out their insulation rating and the last time they were replaced.
The air conditioner. Check the manufacturing date, as well as the date last serviced. Listen for any out-of-place noises. Look for any buildup of debris, ice, or water.
The patio and landscaping. Patios made of brick or wood can crumble and degrade. Landscaping can be changed relatively easily, but evaluate any other permanent fixtures like retaining walls or sprinkler systems.
If the home has a pool, that is another exterior feature that needs to be carefully inspected.
Flooring and baseboards. Many of our historic homes have beautiful original wood flooring and trim. Look for rot. There may be laminate, tile, or carpet flooring. Do you see yourself making any immediate changes?
Interior paint. Again, some of these historic homes have been repainted many times over. Is the paint acceptable, do you need a fresh coat, or do you have to scrape it all and start fresh? Perhaps you might just want to change the color, but that’s not something that should make or break a buying decision.
Plumbing and electrical. You’ll need to ask the homeowner when this has last been updated, and if there are any problems. Regardless of the answer, this is an important part of your home inspection.
A few more interior details that just need to be checked off the list before we go room-by-room: smoke detectors, level floors, the condition of a potential fireplace, and any visible water damage.
The kitchen. This is one of the most expensive renovations you can do, so take a good look here. Are the appliances too old? Is there any signs of water damage? You can also mark down any of the cosmetic updates you’d like to make in the future.
The bathrooms. Another expensive renovation. Check for leaks, floor damage, and cracks in any of the fixtures. Again, mark down the cosmetic changes or updates you’ll eventually make.
The attic. If you can get a glimpse into the attic, you’ll learn a lot about the house: how much insulation is left, the quality of the duct work, and if there are any signs of animals or pests.
Final interior notes. Is there a seperate utility room for laundry? Anything concerning about the windows from this direction? Other renovations that need to be made before the home is livable?
That’s it! Congratulations on learning how to tour new potential dream homes like a professional. We hope you find the right one.