10 Things to Look For When Buying a Home

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Most people shopping for a new home know to look at factors like total square footage and the number of bedrooms, but there are a number of things they often overlook. When inspecting potential homes, paying close attention to these elements could save you costly headaches later.

Bathroom Size

When looking at new houses, many shoppers check to see if there are enough bathrooms to accommodate everyone in the family. However, these rooms usually need more than just a sink, toilet and a bathtub. There should be enough space for your toiletries as well as storage space for towels, washcloths, toilet paper, cleaning supplies and personal items. If the bathroom is tiny, you're likely not going to be happy with it.

Storage Space

Look in the kitchen for adequate cabinetry to hold all your dishes, glassware and cookware as well as food if there's no pantry. Bedroom closets should be large enough to accommodate your family's needs. In addition, you need storage for your linens, holiday decorations, tools and other items. If not, consider the cost of buying additional storage containers and where you would put them.

Switches and Locks

Homes.com recommends checking every window lock to ensure it works properly. If it doesn't, see if you can simply switch out the lock or if the entire window will need replacing. Take it a step further, and try every door lock as well. Also, flip every light switch to see if fixtures work; if not, determine if it needs a new light bulb or indicates an electrical problem.


Moving into a new home is a lot of work, so you don't want to be slowed down trying to find a place to plug in your lamps. Modern building codes mean most newer homes have a sufficient number of outlets in each room; however, older homes may not. Check every room for the outlets you will need; it's possible you may have to budget to have additional outlets installed.

Water Damage

Water leaks in a home can lead to any number of problems: weakened floors or walls, mold, mildew, and damaged ceilings. Homes.com suggests checking for mold and mildew as well as any leaks or signs of previous leaks in the kitchen and bathrooms. You also should check the laundry room, the basement and anywhere else a water leak could evolve. Repairing water-damaged walls or floors could be relatively inexpensive; fighting harmful mold could be much more costly.

Room Layout

Many homebuyers never really consider a room layout until it's time to place furnishings. To avoid getting stuck with an awkward floor plan, carefully consider your furniture placement and bring along a tape measure to get accurate measurements of walls and room dimensions. After all, you don't want the couch to block your view from the windows or be unable to fully open your closet door around your bedroom furniture.


During your home inspection, don't forget the extras like carbon monoxide detectors, garage door openers and security systems. It's not enough for the home to be simply equipped with them; check to make sure they all work as they should. Not only do these add value and convenience to the home, but they also could mean savings on your homeowners insurance.


Property listings note when a home was constructed, but the same cannot be said for the elements within that home. Homes.com advises learning the age of the home's hot water heater, air conditioning unit, furnace and roof because those are the most costly replacements. It's a good idea to extend this inquiry to include any installed kitchen appliances and, if included, the washer and dryer.


When house shopping, it's so easy to get caught up in looking at the home itself. You examine it thoroughly on the inside and check it out from the outside. But homebuyers also need to see the views from all the windows, says Rod Smith, director of general brokerage for Coldwell Banker Chicora in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Make sure you like what you see now so you don't have buyers' remorse later.


Regardless how well you inspect a new home, problems still could arise after you move in. To assist you with any such problems, Smith recommends seeking a home warranty paid for by the seller at the time of purchase. Sometimes, the seller does not offer such a warranty, but you can request one as part of the offer to purchase. Generally, they range between $350 and $500 and cover your first 12 months in the home, Smith says.