I often see home buyers walk into a home and within 2 minutes say “WOW, THIS IS THE ONE!” First impressions are very important for sure, but with such important financial investment, it is a good idea to spend a bit more time taking a close look at details before deciding to make an offer on a home. Sure, you can always back out after inspections uncover major problems, but by then you have already spent quite a bit of money to pay for inspections. Why not spend a bit of time looking into potential problems before making the offer? Even if the home IS perfect, doing a bit of sleuthing up front can put you in a stronger negotiating position when making the offer.
Below we are going to talk about what to look for around the exterior of the home.
Make Notes on Each House
It is a good idea to make notes on each house you visit. Carry a notepad and write the address and MLS number of the house down, or you can use the MLS printouts that I provide. Before going into each house, snap a picture of MLS sheet with your phone. Then as you tour the home and see items you have questions about – or even items that you really like – snap a picture. Later you can go back and see each MLS sheet and the following photos and use those as a reminder
Home Visit Checklist
- Roof – Look at the roof closely. Look for chips, loose shingles, cracks, and overall condition. Pay especially close attention to flashing areas where they meet chimney and the valley’s where the roof meets. Is the area around the vent pipe’s secure? Is there any mold on the roof? Are trees rubbing against the roof? None of these are deal killers and can all be easily fixed, but it is best to have an idea of the condition of the roof before making an offer.
- Door Jambs – Take a close look at the exterior door jambs and look for wood rot and possible termites. While it is normal for doors to stick at times as the house expands and contracts from the heat or cold, a rotted door jamb will need to be replaced to keep water and insects out of the home. Door jambs are easy to repair but again, knowledge before making an offer puts you in a better negotiating position.
- Foundation – Walk around the exterior of the home and look closely at the foundation. In Oklahoma, most homes built after 1960 have a concrete slab foundation. With our high clay content, it is not unusual for the soil to shift and foundations to crack. A cracked foundation shouldn’t be a deal-killer, but you will want to take that into account during negotiations and make sure it is addressed during the home inspection. Has the home had piers installed, or is that something you may have to address in the future. It is not uncommon for homes to have piers in Oklahoma, but it is expensive so you want to factor that into your offer.
- Yard Drainage – Check out the slope of the yard to better understand how the water drains around the house. With the rains we have had in 2019, many homes flooded that never flooded before. Make sure the water has somewhere to go away from the house in heavy rains. If there are flat or low spots around the home, check to see if french drains are in place to get the water away from the home and foundation. Wet foundations can lead to cracks and shifting.
- AC Compressor – Check out the air conditioning compressor for wear, age, and maintenance. Take a close look at the AC coil fins. Are they bent? If so they could hinder performance. Is the unit clean and well maintained? AC compressors are expensive and a poorly maintained unit can mean unexpected repairs in the near future.
- Fence – Walk the fence line and look for broken fence panels, rotted fence posts, or general disrepair. While repairing fencing is an easy do-it-yourself task, it is good to know if you will need to spend money soon on fence repair before making an offer.
While none of these items should preclude you from making an offer on a house, you will want to make note of them and account for them in your offer. They can provide you with negotiating power and even help you make a decision between two nearly equal houses. Keep details notes on each