Spring is the house-hunting season in Ottawa. If you are planning to buy, chances are you have already started scouring the MLS or are taking advantage of the early-to-market open houses. Open houses are a perfect opportunity for those preparing to buy to get a feel for the market trends and conditions. If you are not already working with a relator, Team Elder Home Sales would like to share a few house hunting tips for spring buyers. These tips come from our years of experience and are often areas home buyers overlook during the early stages.
Neighbourhood + Community
Buying a house goes beyond looking at the four walls and property. Buying a home means becoming part of a community and connecting with the neighbourhood. When visiting an open house, it can be advantageous to walk the block. Look at the neighbouring homes – are they well cared for? If possible, visit during the peak periods (morning or evening rush hour) and during off-peak hours – how heavy is the traffic? Active transportation lovers will want to explore the closest transit stops or accessibility to local trails and parks. Have kids? Make a point to see if there are parents pushing babies in strollers, kids out playing or a nearby park or school. Finally, look to the proximity of shops, entertainment and other key services you or your family members may want or need.
Spring Run Off – Exterior Checks
While many of us are drawn to the interior layout of a home, the exterior condition can give off warning signs. When visiting an open house, take time to tour the exterior. Yes, the ground may be damp or muddy, but trust us, the trip will be well worth the time. Check the foundation for signs of parging deterioration or cracks. Look at the hardscaping elements – are the pavers still level during the thaw? Do the retaining walls need work? Patios and decks can look tired after a long, snowy winter – but if a deck feels like a springboard, it probably needs some attention. Other key exterior elements to review include the garage door and trim (does it need paint or repairs), the windows and sills (look for signs of cracks, gaps and failing seals), the condition of bricks and/or siding, the roofing material(s), and the state of the driveway.
Big Ticket Items
After doing an exterior walk-around, buyers should take the time to ask the listing agent for the age or repair history on the big ticket items. While most times this information is provided on the Feature Sheet, it pays to double check. The list of big ticket items include the roof, the windows, the doors, the HVAC system (heating, ventilation and air conditioner), the plumbing system, the electrical system, the well (if applicable), the septic system (if applicable), the hot water heater, the carpet/flooring, and appliances, if included in the sale.
Signs of TLC
Signs of a well-cared for home include cleanliness in the most overlooked places. That’s right – check out the baseboards (admit it, no one loves cleaning baseboards!), regularly caulked kitchens and bathrooms, spic and span toilets and sinks, dirt-free window sills and tracks, and odour free closets and basement.
Use Your Nose
When touring a potential new home, try to use your nose. While some walls and floors may need a good scrub, other stubborn odours can be hard to eliminate. Home buyers rank mould and mildew as the most offensive odours, followed by pets (urine), food scents and tobacco. Keep in mind serious odours embedded in carpets, walls or window coverings may require extensive repairs or overhauls.
Team Elder Home Sales hopes these House Hunting Tips for Spring Buyers helps you make the most of your early home visits. If you would like help planning your move, want free Ottawa real estate information, assessments or advice, get in touch with Martin Elder today.