It’s been about 3 weeks since my HB and I’s first round of house hunting and already I’ve learned a lot. 

Even though I did my homework beforehand (I read books, blog posts and watched more Holmes on Homes and Income Property than I’d like to admit), it wasn’t until we actually started going to showings that I realized we seriously needed some sort of house hunting checklist to bring with us so we didn’t forget to look anything.

I just didn’t expect to be so overwhelmed when looking at places that I would forget to do common sense things like check the closets or look under the rugs.

For example, remember that white house we looked at that we really liked? We were so taken by how cute and well-maintained it was that we totally forgot to note that the kitchen didn’t have a dishwasher and the parking spot that was promised on the listing was nowhere to be seen.

Since then we’ve made a house hunting checklist that we bring to every showing and it’s really helped keep us focused and ultimately to make it easier to decide whether we want to put in an offer or move on. It’s been especially handy in Toronto’s current real estate market, since we only get two chances to see a place before putting in a bid: the day of the initial showing and the day of the home inspection.

So, without further ado, here as some of my now must-dos when checking out a potential new home. It’s pretty simple and clear-cut, but it’s honestly been a huge help to us.

Check Out the Neighbourhood

It’s hard to tell if a neighbourhood is good or bad solely based on Google Map’s Streetview. Taking the time to drive around the area, talk to friends who are familiar with it and even looking it up on the news are smart ways to eliminate no-go zones or give an up-and-coming neighbourhood a chance.

My HB and I currently live in the west end of Toronto, but most of the places we’re looking at are in the east end. I know it sounds crazy since we’ve been in Toronto for almost two years but we’ve never really been to the east end. We just had no real reason to venture out there, so it’s completely new territory for us.

Thankfully we know a few people familiar with the east end and we’ve got a car so we can do a quick drive-by before or after a showing. And since most of our showings are at night, seeing the place again during daylight is imperative.

Survey Outside of the House

Although I’m always more concerned about the inside of a house instead of the outside (I have no plans to become a gardener and the less lawn I have to mow the better), I know that it’s the outside that will quickly tell you whether a house is in good shape or not.

Especially since we’re hoping to find a place with a basement, I know structural issues, foundations, and water damage are big concerns. Obviously this is what a home inspector is for, but it’s important to note things down like visibly cracked shingles or a tree that looks like it’s one big wind away from crashing down so you can bring it to their attention.

Be Nosy and Check Everything Inside

The first house we saw, I felt so uncomfortable going through someone’s things. It didn’t help that the owner was just sitting in his car waiting for us to be done, but I just felt so weird violating someone else’s space. Well, I got over that feeling pretty quick.

Yes, looking through someone’s house is strange, but you’re buying a frickin’ house that’s gonna cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars! Get over it and check everything! What do I mean by everything?

  • The fridge (is it clean/old?)
  • The closets (how many are there, are they big enough and is there one in the entryway?)
  • The kitchen (are the appliances old/well-maintained and does it include a fridge, oven, stove, dishwasher and sink?)
  • The rugs and wall decorations (are the homeowners covering something up?)
  • The laundry (is there a laundry room and how old are the washer and dryer?)
  • The sinks (do they all work, is the kitchen sink a single or a double sink and is the water coming out clean in all of them?)
  • The doors (are any of them hard to open/close and is there a separate entrance in the back?)
  • The drawers and cupboards (do they open easily, are they in good condition and is there enough storage?)
  • The floors (do they creak, are they level and how loud are footsteps from a lower level?)
  • The walls (how thin/sound proof are they and are there any signs of bubbling or cracking?)
  • The rooms (do they include closets and are they big enough?)
  • The windows (is there a draft coming out of any of them?)
  • The electrical sockets (do the sockets near the sinks include GFIs and are all electrical sockets grounded?)
  • The electrical outlets (are they in convenient places like the bathroom vanity and throughout the kitchen?)
  • The ceilings (any visible water damage or cracking?)

Trust Your Gut

I know it sounds cliché, but the gut test is the best test in pretty much any high-stakes kind of situation. Even if the house you look at checks every box on your house hunting checklist, if your guts says “No”, you better listen to it. The white house we saw on our first day of house hunting ticked quite a few boxes for us.

We weighed the pros and cons, but at the end of it my gut just didn’t tell me “This is your house.” I’m not a big believer in looking for your dream house, I’ve always been in this game to find a house as an investment first and foremost, but I still have to live in it and it still needs to feel right.

That being said, I can’t wait to fill you in our latest house hunting experience. It includes a home inspector and an offer! Stayed tuned for that, and thanks for reading!

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