Have you grown tired of renting small apartments? Have you finally managed to save up enough to put a down payment on a piece of real estate for you own? Buying a house can be an extremely exciting time of your life. No longer will you have to worry about a landlord yelling at you for something as simple as hanging up a picture on the wall. But since buying a house is such a permanent decision, it's important that you do as much checking as you can to make sure that the house you're buying is the right one for your needs. To that end, here are some things to check out when buying a house:
Interior smell: When looking at homes for sale, it's not unusual to find ones that smell musty or otherwise odd. To help mask this scent, some sellers will put air fresheners in the house. Unfortunately, these air fresheners can be masking an important clue. If you find a house that smells musty, of mildew, or of anything besides a dusty and unoccupied scent, you should investigate further. If the scent is concentrated around the kitchen and/or bathroom drains, there is likely an issue with the plumbing that will need to be corrected. If the scent is more general, sometimes accompanied by a reddish or orange dust on everything, the house likely has wood rot. Before agreeing to purchase the place, you'll want to have a professional inspect the home to find out what the issue is.
Door and window frames: Although many homes now have door or window frames made from vinyl, a lot of them still have wooden ones. When touring homes for sale, especially in areas where termites or carpenter ants are a serious problem, give each wooden door or window frame a few good pokes in two or three different spots. A solid frame won't guarantee that there are no termites, but a door or window frame that crumbles when touched may be one of the first obvious signs that the house is infested. You'll obviously still want a separate termite inspection, but this can be a way to rule out some houses without having to have each one inspected.
Gutter condition: The gutters on homes for sale should be relatively clean and free of debris. If the house is currently vacant, the homeowner should be paying for someone to clean out the gutter system at least every couple months. A clogged gutter system can result in water backing up under the shingles on the roof, creating a serious leak inside. Once the damage has been done, there may be no recourse but to have the gutters cleaned out and to replace that section of the roof. If you don't check the gutters yourself or opt for an inspection of the roof, your first clue that something is wrong with your new house may be during the next major rainstorm when your belongings get damaged.