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Home Buying: Emphasis on the Exterior

Prioritize Properties: Emphasis on the Exterior

When it comes to choosing a home to buy, there are exterior people and then there are interior people. It’s the gardener vs. the chef, the outdoor entertainer vs. the I-need-a-fireplace-in-my bedroom person. The latter group is far larger than the former, which is why when it comes to advice online, you’ll find lots of it geared toward what to look for inside a home.

Even the number of photos of a home’s exterior pale in comparison to those of the interior, which is why today we turn our attention to the home shopper who jumps out of the car and breezes up the walkway to a home-for-sale’s front door with nary a look at the exterior. Slow down. Take your time when you get out of the car. If the home is appealing to you, check out the exterior before getting back in the car.

Check Out the Lay of the Land!

You can always change a home’s landscaping; it can be pricey, but it’s certainly doable. What you can’t change is the amount of usable space you have. Try to envision your ideal yard: Is it a flower garden? A produce garden? An entertaining hub? A place of peace and tranquility? While pondering an offer, try to sketch out your ideas and ensure you have space to do all that you desire. Try to visit your property of choice during different times of day and ask yourself: is it too noisy for me, are the streets too crowded, what are the neighbors like? Consider anything that may be a deterrent or even a disqualifier.

Terrain is important to consider when planning your future oasis. If your property is flat, that is often considered easy to work with. A sloped property isn’t always a no-go, but can be expensive if you plan on changing the terrain through excavation. You could terrace the land to create a garden on multiple levels, you could dig out a great spot for a fire pit…the options are (almost) endless!

It’s also important to check out the number and types of trees on the property. Trees, large or small, can be considered good or bad. Large, older trees can be problematic if they have invasive roots and are grown too close to a home’s foundation, swimming pool or other sensitive areas. Other large trees may have been planted too close to the home and now look to eat the home’s roof (or look like they may come crashing down on the house). On the other hand, large, older trees that aren’t posing a risk to the home’s structure actually add value to the home and may even help you save on home energy costs. Other trees may not be your preference: Aspens have off-shoots that spring up or fruit trees may seed new ones, so it depends on what you are willing to work with/around.

Sidewalks can play into your decision as well. As a homeowner, you will be responsible for shoveling in the winter and maintaining the sidewalk. Keep in mind that corner lots will have twice the amount of sidewalk to shovel or snow blow. You will also be responsible for repairing any lifted, pitted, or cracked concrete. If you’re not ready for that, a house with sidewalks (or a corner lot) may not be for you.

Decide if acreage is for you or not. Acreage can be a lot to take care of, so you’ll want to decide how much time and effort you want to put into land. If you do get acreage, you might be able to get a timber exemption/tax deferral on land greater than 5 acres. Is the acreage usable for your purposes? Keep in mind that acreage is harder to change than just landscaping, due to the size of the property, in comparison to changes made on smaller lots. Walk the property, you never know what you’ll find…it could seal the deal or be the deal breaker you needed to help make your decision.

A Good Foundation:

See cracks in the foundation? Before you get nervous about them, they may mean nothing, or, they may mean you should run, quickly, back to your car. Of the five types of foundation cracks, those that run vertically are nothing to be concerned about, according to pros at Complete Basement Systems in Colorado. “… they’re a common sight in many homes and non-threatening.,” they claim. “Vertical cracks tend to slant slightly (within 30 degrees). To seal them, water-resistant epoxy or polyurethane injection is applied to the cracks.”

Diagonal cracks are also among the least dangerous. They are caused by what is known as “differential settlement.” Although they aren’t among the scariest of foundation cracks, “… cracks that run diagonally at 30 to 75 degrees …” should be checked by a professional. When buying a home, the most important cracks to have inspected are those that run at a horizontally. “Several types exist and all indicate serious structural problems,” the folks at Basement Systems warn. Check out their website for more information.

Ah, a Sparkling Swimming Pool!

Listing descriptions of homes for sale are often tantalizing, right? If the home features a swimming pool, the adjectives come fast and furious. If you’ve never owned a home with a swimming pool, brush up on their upkeep. From getting the chemicals balanced to skimming leaves and scrubbing the walls, there is a lot that goes into maintaining a clean and hygienic swimming pool.

How will you know if a pool and its equipment at a home for sale has been properly maintained? Ask your agent to obtain maintenance records from the seller. At the very least, find out the age of the pool and the equipment. Look for cracks and, if you find any, have the pool inspected by a professional. Yes, it’s an additional expense to hire a pool pro, but consider this: “A new, energy-efficient heat pump cost $4,500. We bought a pool-cleaning robot for about $800. Just to get the pool running, we spent about $10,000,” Sally Herigstad says of her buying-a-home-with-a-pool experience. “Last summer, we spent about $500 on repairs, plus another $200 on chemicals,” she continued.

Her advice? “If you have your heart set on using a pool, consider having a pool expert inspect your property before you buy the house. Be reasonably confident you can afford to fix the pool and maintain it, or no one will be having any fun with it.”

We’re happy to help you find the specialists required to give you peace-of-mind during your home purchase. Reach out anytime: 208-661-4749

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