Going on a house tour is one of the most important parts of buying a property. This means you can’t go in blindly without a plan in mind. To put it simply, you need to make sure you make the most out of these visits. However, given that buying a home is a huge financial decision, the prospect of viewing a house that might become their next residence can be a little overwhelming, especially for first-time homebuyers.

Touring a house, particularly if the seller still hasn’t moved out, can be a bit difficult as you might not feel comfortable looking around the place that is filled with other people’s stuff. Honestly, it could be a lot to take, which is why you need to follow a checklist that could help you figure out if the home you are viewing is actually a good fit for you and your family.

On the other hand, you also need to make sure you are not distracted by the things that can be easily replaced, upgraded or removed. For instance, the tacky curtains on the window should not keep you from checking the view of what lies beyond.

If you are in the middle of house hunting or are planning to buy a house, here are a few things you should take into account along with other things that you should definitely not pay attention to. But first, make sure to check out the beginner’s guide on buying a used house in Pakistan so that you know what your next step should be.

THINGS TO IGNORE WHEN VIEWING A HOUSE FOR THE FIRST TIME

Regardless of whether you have a real estate agent to accompany you, there are a few things you must not take into consideration while viewing a house for the first time.

  • Home Décor
  • Furniture and hardware
  • Kitchen and bathroom designs
  • Clutter

Let’s discuss these points further.

HOME DÉCOR

This one is a no-brainer. The old-fashioned carpet on the floor and the unflattering colour palette do not define the property you are visiting. The décor choices of the seller might not be in line with your personal style preference, but remember, home décor can always be upgraded.

Things such as faded wallpaper, peeling paint, unappealing wall art, tacky light fixtures, and the way everything has been placed around the house should not affect your decision to buy a property. The reason behind this is pretty simple, you can always replace the carpet, remove the wallpaper, upgrade the walls with a fresh coat of paint, get rid of the photos and art in the home and above all, rearrange things whichever way you like. In a similar manner, modern and trendy home décor should be ignored as well.

Even though home décor is one of the least important things to look for when buying a house, unfortunately, a lot of homebuyers let it affect their judgment, which should never be the case.

FURNITURE AND HARDWARE

Just like the home décor, furniture and other hardware should also be ignored when viewing a house for the first time. These elements are not a permanent part of a property, which means you can get simply get rid of them even if the sellers decide to leave them behind during the move.

More often than not, the sight of distressed-looking furniture and old-fashioned cabinetry can be a little off-putting. However, you need to look beyond the physical items in the room. The untidy looking cabinets can either be upgraded or replaced, depending on their condition. You can even take a look at our guide on how to paint your kitchen cabinets and make them look brand new on your own. In case they are beyond the point of being salvaged, you can check out the common types of wooden cabinets and their rates in Pakistan to determine how much it’ll cost you to replace them.

Similarly, hardware such as doorknobs, window handles and drawer pulls can be easily replaced.

KITCHEN AND BATHROOM DESIGN

Outdated appliances, untidy fixtures, lack of backsplash and worn-out countertops in the kitchen are some of the things that can deter the buyers from investing in a property. If you don’t like the way a kitchen has been designed or think the floor tiles won’t go with the kind of décor you had in mind, be mindful that these things can be replaced.

Similarly, if a bathroom looks disgusting, has cracked tiles or is just very outdated, don’t let it affect your decision to buy the house. When viewing a house for the first time, these details might stand out more than the others, but they hold no weight in the long run. You can always renovate or remodel the bathroom and kitchen. In fact, depending on their condition, you can even go the DIY route and save some money.

CLUTTER

f the house you are touring is still occupied, then the residents must be in the process of moving out. Since packing your home for a move is not an easy take, those living there might not have had a chance to straighten things up before your arrival. The dirty dishes in the sink, a pile of laundry on the table, and overflowing garbage cans should not influence your decision regarding the place in the slightest.

The overflowing closets, cluttered storage rooms and unkempt basement are also some of the things you should not take into account when viewing a house for the first time.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN VIEWING A HOUSE FOR THE FIRST TIME

Now that we know what not to look for when viewing a house for the first time, here is a list of things that you should actually take into account while touring what could be your next abode.

  • The layout and location of the house
  • Bad Odours and stains
  • Condition of the floors and walls
  • Illegal alterations

Here is an overview of all of these factors that should be in your viewing a house checklist.

LOCATION AND LAYOUT OF THE HOUSE

The layout and location are two of the most important things to look for when viewing a house to buy.

You should try and find out as much about the neighbourhood where the house is situated as you can. Some of the factors that may affect your decision include proximity to schools, parks and markets as well as access to public transportation. Also, you must make sure the area you are planning to invest in is clean, has ample parking space and does not witness a lot of traffic.

As for the layout of the house, please keep in mind that while the home décor can be updated, the layout is something you can’t really change – unless you are ready to splurge on a hefty home renovation or are getting a good deal owing to the house’s condition. Therefore, if you are viewing a house for the first time, slowly walk from one part of the property to another and determine if all the rooms are big enough for your needs. If the kitchen or bathrooms are too small or if the shape of the living room is not proportional, fixing them would cost a fortune and a whole lot of stress. Similarly, you need to see if the house has proper ventilation.

Pro tip: Make sure you are not being fooled by a cleverly staged home. However, as a precautionary measure, bring along a measuring tape on the house tour.

Does the house smell weird? If so, ask yourself if you can identify it.

While most bad odours can be a result of untidy home, a pile of dirty dishes in the kitchen sink, overflowing garbage cans and even pets, there are some smells you can’t ignore – especially the smell of dampness. Musty odours and that of cigarette smoke can also be a bit hard to get rid of, but mouldy or damp smell usually indicates water damage.

Since the seller may have tried to cover up the water stains with a fresh coat of paint, you need to look closely around the skirting and near the ceiling to spot flaky plaster or mould infestation.

Stains and bad odours are among the top things to look for when viewing a house to buy.

CONDITION OF WALLS AND FLOORS

Cracks in the walls and general condition of the floor are also some of the most crucial things to look for when touring a house. While hairline cracks are something that can still be fixed, it’s the big cracks that you need to look out for. Check out the area around the window frames and where extensions join. The cracks in the wall usually point towards structural damage, which can be extremely costly to fix and may even be beyond repair. If not tended to, these walls either start to bow or just collapse, which can be very dangerous.

The same goes for the floors. To gauge the general condition of the floors, look for any signs of unusually dipping or sagging, especially in and around the bathroom and kitchen. This could be because of plumbing issues, which can lead to water damage and mould infestation. If the floor is covered with a carpet, as the homeowner if they can show you what’s underneath.

This is one of the most important parts of a home inspection checklist for buyers.

ILLEGAL ALTERATIONS 

If the house you are touring is located in a housing society, you need to make sure it is constructed as per the concerned bylaws and guidelines. Any illegal additions and alterations to the structure of the house can get you in trouble with the local authorities further down the line. Ask the seller and the real estate agent, if any, whether the house has been built in accordance with the building guidelines approved by the housing society or any other local authorities.

For instance, construction bylaws in DHA, Lahore, dictate that you cannot build a swimming pool unless your property is 1 kanal or above. This is something you should definitely keep an eye out for when viewing a house for the first time.