You’ve found the perfect place and you’re ready to make an offer. It’s a lot of money and this house is likely to be your home for a while, so take a moment to run through a few last-minute things before you sign on the dotted line.
Start with the basics and the big-ticket items. Look at the house foundation and check the basement for any signs of water damage. Ask when the roof was last replaced and how old the windows are. It’s also a good idea to check when the HVAC was installed and how old the major appliances are. That can give you a pretty good idea of how many big-ticket expenses are in your near future.
Location has a double impact on your home’s value. First, look at how close your home is to things like hospitals and supermarkets, but also check what school district you’re in and how good the schools are. Even if you don’t have children and you never go to the hospital, these things have an impact on your home’s value. You can also check comparable homes in the same area, to see what kind of problems they have and what the general value is like.
Whether you love a house long term is also going to depend more than a little bit on your neighborhood. Don’t immediately assume that a fancy neighborhood is going to be inherently nicer to live in. Chat with the neighbors and try to get a sense of how friendly they are. At the very least it’s a good idea to look at the homeowner’s association website to see what the rules are and whether they’re something you can live with.
Last but certainly not least, look away from the home and the neighborhood and look at your own finances. You want to make the best offer you can, and while that will be in part determined by factors like the neighborhood and location, it will also certainly be affected by your own budget and the housing market as a whole. Ask your realtor for advice about the market and ask yourself: how much will I be kicking myself later if I don’t get this house now?
None of the items on this list are as important as the way a house makes you feel. If you are in love with a place, that’s the most important thing, but this basic checklist can help inform your final decisions about what offer you want to make.