You’re probably feeling excited, hopeful, and a little stressed out – because house hunting can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. With some preparation and determination, you can make the house hunting process flow much more smoothly.
From location to pricing to closing dates, there are so many things to keep in mind during the search for a new home. That’s where the mighty checklist comes in. We use checklists for maintenance to moving and everything in between, and when it comes to house hunting, they prove just as helpful.
To help you get started on this exciting journey, use this detailed checklist to ensure you’re covering every aspect of the process ahead:
Before jumping into details, you’ll want to determine the basic requirements necessary for your home-to-be.
- How many bedrooms do you need, at a minimum? (1 to 5+)
- How many bathrooms do you need, at a minimum? (1 to 5+)
- Note: Keep in mind how many of these are four-piece bathrooms and how many are two-piece bathrooms. A four-piece bathroom includes four plumbing fixtures: a sink, a toilet, and two other fixtures (often a tub and a shower). A two-piece bathroom includes just a sink and toilet.
- What is your minimum square footage? Your maximum?
When it comes to choosing the right home for you and your family, it’s not only the actual house itself that should be considered – you need to take a good look at what type of neighbourhood you want to live in, and which amenities are nearby:
- If you have school-age children, you’ll want to check if there are schools in the area:
- Are there elementary schools nearby? Are they public or private?
- Are there high schools in the area? Are they public or private?
- If you have older children, you may want to consider proximity to higher education:
- Are there colleges in the area?
- Are there universities in the area?
- Are there shopping malls nearby? How far are they? Are they accessible by foot, public transit, or car?
- Are there grocery stores nearby?
- If you go to restaurants often, you may want to check if there are any in or near your neighbourhood.
- How far is the nearest hospital, pharmacy, and walk-in clinic?
- If you commute to and from work/school, is there public transportation near your neighbourhood?
- Does your neighbourhood include any other additional fees, such as a monthly club house fee?
- If you’re considering a townhouse, check for maintenance/strata fees.
- Is there a snow and/or garbage removal fee?
- How much is insurance and property tax in the area?
Before making your way inside, you’ll want to inspect the interior of your home by considering the following:
- Check for missing shingles, discolouration, holes or a sagging roof line.
- If you are buying a resale home that 10+ years old, you’ll want to ask if/when the roof was replaced.
- Depending on the material, roofs should be replaced every 15 to 50 years – if you’re considering purchasing an older home, keep in mind that roof replacement is a sizeable expense.
- Is the home’s foundation in good shape? Are there any large cracks or damage?
- How many cars can fit inside the driveway? If your family owns multiple cars, make sure that you search for a home that can accommodate your vehicles.
- Is the driveway in good condition? Are there any cracks, holes or other visible damage?
- Are the trees, fence, and lawn in good condition?
- If there a deck or patio? Is it in good condition?
The interior of your home is where you and your family will be spending most of your time. Take care to check for the following aspects of each room:
- Are the faucets in working order and free of leaks?
- Is there any mold or mildew around the faucets?
- Is there enough storage/cabinet space?
- What is your preference for kitchen countertops – granite, marble, quarts, slate etc.?
- How many full bathrooms does the home include? How many half bathrooms?
- Do you prefer a tub, shower or both?
- Is the faucet, shower, and tub in good working order?
- Flush the toilet to make sure it is working properly.
- Check the number of bedrooms – will it be enough for your whole family?
- If you frequently have guests over, you may want to consider a guest bedroom.
- Where are the bedrooms located – on the first floor, the second floor, or the basement? Do you have a preference?
- Check the flooring in each bedroom – is it in good condition?
- Does each bedroom include a closet?
- Do you prefer the master bedroom include an ensuite bathroom (a private bathroom that is connected to the bedroom)?
- Are you looking for an open or closed layout?
- What type of flooring do you want in each room? Ex: tiles in the kitchen, hardwood in the living and dining rooms, and carpet in the bedrooms.
- Check for natural sunlight – do the rooms receive any sun or will you need extra lamps?
- Are the windows big enough?
- What type of light fixtures are used in each room?
- Does the home include a fireplace? Is it gas or electric?
- Does the home include a proper dining room area? Decide whether a dining room is a necessity, as many smaller homes, townhouses and condos lack a separate dining room area.
- Is there a smoke/carbon monoxide detector on each floor? Note that every home ideally should have a working smoke alarm on each floor of the house, and outside of all sleeping areas/bedrooms.
- Does the house have a finished or unfinished basement? If the home is newer and the basement is not finished, consider whether you’ll want to one day renovate the basement to add space to your home.
The Final Word
When it comes to house hunting, as with many things in life, the old adage rings true – patience is a virtue!
While using this checklist can help keep your search on track, it’s also wise to avoid getting hung up on tiny details. A wall colour, for example, can easily be changed, so focus on you and your family’s main wants and needs – compromises and changes can always be made later with those less important features.
Happy house hunting!