4 Things to Check When You Buy a House in Fall by Craig Donofrio
Buying a house in the offseason can be a great idea, as homes are a bit cheaper, sellers may be more inclined to sell and there’s less competition from droves of buyers.
That’s not the only advantage for those looking to buy a house in the fall: if you know what to look for, you can actually use the fall season as a litmus test to help you spot potential problems and pluses on your prospective home.
1. Leaves, Leaves Everywhere
Shopping for a home during the autumn is an easy way to see how impressive your home will look for years to come. Those turning leaves can make a day at home that much more relaxing.
Of course, leaves can also bring a number of issues.
If the property is full of trees, expect the yard to need heavy cleanup. Leaf cleanup can be difficult and time-consuming labor, so decide whether or not you want to pay for it or do it yourself.
This should be done more than once a season, as too many leaves will clog gutters and drainage systems.
If the yard has been cleaned, look for piles of leaves by the edge of the property to get an idea of what cleanup is really like when you buy a house.
Nothing’s cozier than a night next to a crackling fire when the cold creeps in.
To ensure the cold isn’t creeping down the chimney, check the fireplace. Open and close the damper, checking for drafts each time. A little draft is fine, but a large draft means you may need a new damper.
Also check for any strange smells, like decaying leaves.
While a home inspector will check the general appearance and functionality of the fireplace—like if the damper opens—he will not check inside the chimney.
Ask the seller for evidence of the last time the chimney has been cleaned: if it has been for more than a year, it will need a professional cleaning job.
3. Insulation and Heating
Fall is windy. That’s good, because it will be easier to check for bad insulation.
When touring the home, pass your hand over windows, electrical outlets, doors and baseboards to check for leaks. Make note of any rattling windows, which can indicate a loose seal.
Notice if any room feels colder than others. If so, this can indicate bad insulation or a problem with the heating system in that section. A freezing room during the cold months will likely mean a sweltering one during the hot months.
Ask if you can turn the heater on and off: when doing so, listen—does it sound like a monster banging around in the basement? That’s something that can wake you (or the kids) up at night.
If there are any weird smells, the duct systems may need cleaning—or the furnace may need a second look.
4. Watching the Rain
Take a walk around the property when it’s raining and check for spouts of water shooting out where they shouldn’t be.
This means a gutter problem, which could lead to flooding if water pools on the ground. Make note of where the water is gushing and check the basement’s interior for signs of leaks.
Check the yard’s drainage system. If the home is on slanted ground or a hill base, water should rush by it—not into it. Take note of any ground gutter system and the potential for them to be clogged by leaves during the autumn season.
The more potential for flooding there is, the cleaner you need to keep your yard during the rainy months.
The Telltale Signs for Next Summer
Don’t forget problems that creep up in winter will likely happen again in the summer.
By checking for leaks, drafts and other issues now, you’ll be saving yourself potential repair costs—and high utility bills—in the hottest months of the year, too.