For potential homebuyers, the days of leisurely touring weekend open houses are on hold. Even as coronavirus restrictions begin to lift, virtual tours are still happening, and buyers and agents are being selective about in-person showings.
If you’re relying on video footage or trying to get in and out of a property quickly, it’s easy to focus on the interior and forget that there’s a world outside that needs to be explored. Here are some exterior features you don’t want to miss.
Driveways and walkways
While a long, tree-lined driveway is picturesque, remember that it is also the homeowners responsibility to clear that snow. If hours of snowblowing every year doesn’t appeal to you, you may want to rethink a long driveway in Michigan.
And check the condition of both the driveway and walkways. Some cracks in the pavement are normal but big cracks may be a sign of bigger issues.
The curb appeal may look like something out of Better Homes & Gardens but look past the beauty and consider the upkeep. Lush greenery, extensive flower beds, ornate gardens…all of this requires maintenance, so make sure you’re willing to invest the time and money.
Also be sure to pay attention to how close trees are to the house. Roots can infiltrate pipes and large branches could damage the home in a storm.
The home’s placement
We all know real estate is about location, location, location. But even if a home is in your desired area, you may find it’s too close to the neighbors’ property, right next to a busy street, or within earshot of a railroad track.
REALTOR® Albert Manas with The Adriane Lau Team of RE/MAX Real Estate Professionals, East Lansing encourages clients to drive by a potential home before touring it virtually or in person.
“You can also get a good idea of a home’s surroundings by viewing it on Google maps,” he said. “By zooming in or out you can see nearby features, like major roads and intersections, restaurants or other businesses, ponds or rivers, etc. Checking this out beforehand not only saves time, but it also helps limit exposure, which is important in today’s environment.”
If there is a shed or other outbuilding, is it in good condition? Is the deck and/or patio structurally sound? Is the playground equipment included? If so, is it in good shape? Are fences and gates in good working order? What about the sprinkler system?
If you’re able to view the home in-person, be sure to give these areas a good once over. If your agent is taking you through virtually, ask him or her to zoom in on any areas of concern.
All four sides
A fresh coat of paint on a home’s siding and front door can up the curb appeal, but it’s important to look beyond the facade. Keep an eye open to exterior features such the condition of the roof and central AC unit, and look for cracks in the foundation.
“Focus on those big-ticket items that will be costly to repair or replace,” said Manas. “A professional REALTOR® will help point out areas to look for and will likely know some of the warning signs that could indicate a problem.”
Even if you fall in love with a home, it doesn’t mean the exterior space will work for your lifestyle. Manas says buyers need to have a clear vision of their outdoor plans before moving forward.
“If your goal is to build a shed, install a pool, purchase solar panels, or even add something as simple as a garden, make sure you actually have the room and the ability to see your vision through before committing to the property,” he said.
In these unprecedented times, having an experienced REALTOR® to guide you is more important than ever. A professional agent will not only make sure you check these important features, but he or she will also refer you to a reputable home inspector who can give everything a much more thorough look.
“And in addition to the traditional home inspection we often encourage buyers to get a wood destroying pest inspection, a radon inspection, a scope of the sewer line, or a well and septic inspection, if applicable,” said Manas. “Paying $500 or $600 for inspections may seem like a lot, but I tell clients to think of it as an insurance policy. Spending that money now could potentially save you thousands in costly repairs down the road.”
For a list of experienced, local REALTORS®, lenders, home inspectors and more, visit the Greater Lansing Association of REALTORS® website at www.lansing-realestate.com.
This article originally appeared on Lansing State Journal: Beyond Curb Appeal: Exterior Features to Double Check During Your Next Home Tour