The Wright Sisters Group | Union Realty Brokerage Inc. - The Beaches, Leslieville, Riverdale and East York Real Estate Specialists – Your East End Toronto Real Estate Team
03 September 2015

There is so much to consider when looking for a new home. To simplify your task, we have compiled a list of important things to keep in mind when looking at a house. A home inspection is needed to reveal significant issues, but you can easily give yourself an idea of short and long-term improvements that will need to be addressed with a little investigating.

1. Location:

Altering your home can be accomplished through updates and renovations, but one thing that cannot be changed is the neighbourhood. Take some time to explore the area surrounding your new potential home. Be aware of schools, parks, grocery stores and public transportation options. Pay attention to traffic noise and determine your commute to work. By visiting the area on different days and at different times, you will get a more complete picture of what to expect when you move in.

Evaluate the level of pride of ownership in the neighbourhood. Look for well-maintained homes and properties. You don’t want to have the best home in a bad area.

It also makes sense to find out if there are any anticipated projects that will increase or hurt the value of your home in the future, like improved transportation systems or major traffic flow changes.

2. Outside:

Often the condition of the exterior of a house can be indicative of the care given to the interior as well. From the outside of the home you should be able to assess the general condition and age of the roof, note any major foundation issues, and evaluate the state of windows and doors.

The location of the home on the property itself is also important. Consider if it is situated too close to the road or neighbours. Pay attention to the steepness of the lot as well since this can affect the feasibility of future renovations, like building a deck, putting in a pool and adding additional living space.

3. Entrances:

Think about accessibility and the location of the door relative to parking and walkways. In colder climates, an attached garage can make life a lot more pleasant on a freezing cold day and an enormous driveway may be a pain to shovel in the winter months. If the home does not have a driveway, be sure to find out about parking options. Without an allocated spot, you should make sure to look into the situation with street parking and whether or not you need a permit.

4. Windows:

Condensation, peeling paint, rot and mold should all be red flags when assessing the state of windows and their casings. Check to see that windows open and close with ease, and that they are not swollen from water damage.

North-facing windows limit the amount of light that enters the home, while south-facing windows will be much brighter. The downside of south-facing windows is that they heat up a room quickly, which may add to your cooling bills in the summer. Make sure that the position of windows allow for sufficient airflow and beware of any unsightly views. Windows can be resized or added but at a considerable cost.

5. Size & Layout:

Ensure you have enough living space for now and for the foreseeable future to avoid the need to renovate or relocate. An extra bedroom can always be used for storage or a guest room until you find a permanent use for the space. Conversely, too many extra rooms contribute to unreasonable heating and cooling bills, and the cost of furnishing an unnecessarily expansive space will be expensive. When a room is too tight, investigate to see if there is an opportunity to expand it.  If you anticipate renovations will be needed, then now is the time to determine which walls are load bearing.

Take a moment to get a good feel for the flow from room to room. Look for obstacles like tight corners, and determine if the sightlines work for you. Room shape is important for furniture placement and room location is also a factor to consider. Ensure that there is a bathroom close to the bedrooms and that there is a buffer between main gathering areas and sleeping quarters.

6. Kitchens & Bathrooms:

These two types of rooms are generally the most expensive and time consuming to update and renovate, so spend extra time appraising them. Ask yourself if there is enough space for your needs, or if space can be added. Appliances are simple enough to switch out so don’t get caught up on these temporary features. Instead, focus on the quality of flooring, tiles and cabinets.

Both kitchens and bathrooms are susceptible to mold and moisture issues so beware of signs of dampness. Peek at the pipes for possible condensation and ease of accessibility in case of future problems. Also take note of the location of electrical outlets and a gas hookup to avoid extra costs later on.

7. Storage:

Don’t get stuck without a place to keep rarely used items. Each bedroom must have a closet with enough space to keep clothing and personal items. A generous closet at the entryway is perfect for storing coats and footwear. Ideally you will also have a place to keep sports equipment, seasonal items, and things that only get used for part of the year.

Adding proper shelving and space solutions to a closet can add value to underused storage spaces. If you intend to store items in the basement, be sure to check for dampness in advance.  

8. Details & More:

If architectural details are important to you, make note of exposed beams, moldings, baseboards and the state of the floors. Look at ceiling height and door clearance from room to room.  These details can be addressed later at a cost.

In an older home, check to see if the radiators are functioning. Make sure that air vents are strategically placed and service all areas of the house. Also take the time to inform yourself of the age of heating and cooling equipment.

A common turnoff for buyers is paint colour. Although you should be certain that recent paint jobs aren’t masking any major flaws or problems, paint colour is simple and relatively inexpensive to fix.  Don’t let it deter you from getting the home of your dreams.

Old light switches and outlets may be indicative of outdated knob-and-tube wiring which can cost a fortune to replace. It can also cause tremendous issues for your home insurance so when in doubt, contact a professional.