House Hunting Checklist: 10 Things Every Homebuyer Should Consider
As fun as the home buying process is, it can also feel overwhelming—even for the experienced buyer. Don’t you wish you had a simple house hunting checklist to guide you through the entire experience?
A home buying checklist is a list of important details to keep in mind when you’re hunting for a new home. The first home checklist helps you compare the properties you’re looking at so you don’t miss a single thing when the time comes to make the big decision.
Referencing a home buying checklist while you house hunt can help you stay true to your wants, needs, and expectations when it comes to house hunting. Ultimately, it’ll help you submit an offer on your dream home!
So, where do you start? We’ll tell you everything you need to know from the ground up.
Why You Should Use a House Hunting Checklist
You rarely find “the one” at your very first house showing. In fact, according to the National Association of Realtors, buyers in 2021 looked at eight homes on average before purchasing. When comparing this many potential homes in different communities, it’s easy to lose track of the details or even confuse the features between houses!
A house hunting checklist makes it easier to compare homes and stay true to your wants and needs throughout the home buying process. You can consider it expert advice right in your pocket! Especially for first-time homebuyers, a first-home checklist will highlight certain features and details that shouldn’t go unnoticed.
House Hunting Checklist: Neighborhood & Location
We know you’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating, “Location, location, location!” A home with nearby shops, restaurants, and other attractions (plus community amenities, too) can significantly impact the attractiveness of a home to a potential home buyer.
Whether you’re a social butterfly or a self-proclaimed homebody, the neighborhood around your home is critical to lifestyle satisfaction.
Consider your lifestyle. Are you a gym buff? A workaholic? A hiking enthusiast? Your home and surrounding area should complement your real life and not bring you frustration or inconvenience.
Depending on your hobbies and daily routine, consider how convenient the neighborhood is to your most-visited spots, such as:
Cozy neighborhood coffee shops and local pubs mean dinner is never far away when your refrigerator is empty.
Speaking of a sad, empty fridge… a convenient grocery store nearby will save the day when you realize you forgot an essential ingredient in your favorite recipe.
Gyms and fitness studios
After a long day in the office, a gym around the corner will get you one step closer to your fitness goals without being too far from home.
Let the kids sleep in a few extra minutes! Living close to top-rated schools is convenient for carpool drop-off and pick-up, plus it helps maintain resale value.
It’s essential to have easy and quick access to your doctors, specialists, and hospitals–even veterinarians–in an emergency.
Parks and recreation
When the sun is shining, outdoor activities and attractions, like these top outdoor areas in Atlanta, are fun for the whole family!
Though the surrounding neighborhood may offer more than enough activities to keep you busy, you’ll also want to consider what the community provides you right at home. Private amenities for recreation and socialization are just steps away at all times.
Swim, tennis, and recreation
Neighborhood swimming, tennis, and recreation provide convenient ways to stay fit and social with friendly neighborly competition.
Clubhouse and social activities
A community clubhouse provides a separate space to host friends and family for private events and social activities.
Some communities include services like landscaping, trash removal, exterior maintenance, and more. Communities that provide these services add value for residents because they don’t have to worry about costly and time-consuming chores.
Homeowners Association (HOA)
If the community has a homeowners association, also known as an HOA, it’s important to understand how much it costs to join, whether or not it's required to become a member, its rules and regulations, and activities.
Like HOA dues, property taxes are paid in addition to your mortgage payment. Property taxes will vary depending on the area you live in, your home's value, and other factors. It’s critical to factor in the cost of property taxes when calculating your budget.
Brock Built Communities
At Brock Built, we know how important community is to the modern home buyer, which is why we choose to build communities in some of the most charming and convenient locations in the southeast.
- Ten29 West - a community of just 61 townhomes on the BeltLine
See all of Atlanta from your rooftop terrace at Ten29 West! Situated on the Atlanta BeltLine Connector with private, secure access to the trail, Ten29 West epitomizes convenience and access to all parts of the city, including Downtown and Midtown Atlanta.
- The Reserve at Bells Ferry - 55+ active adult community in thriving Kennesaw
A welcoming, charming community in the suburbs of thriving Kennesaw, Georgia, The Reserve at Bells Ferry is filled with character just minutes from downtown Marietta and a short drive on I-75 to Midtown Atlanta, North Georgia, and plenty of outdoor adventure.
- Twin Palms - Steps from 30A’s shopping, dining, and beaches
Twin Palms combines luxury and family-friendly living in Inlet Beach, just steps away from Rosemary Beach and minutes from all the charming, laidback beach towns of the Florida Gulf’s 30A region.
House Hunting Checklist: Interior Factors
It’s what’s on the inside that counts, and you’ll spend a lot of time inside your home! The house hunting checklist wouldn’t be complete without the most crucial part of your everyday life: the interior.
The floorplan can be a make-or-break factor when deciding on your next home, so before submitting your offer, consider all the interior factors.
Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
Are there enough bedrooms and bathrooms to serve you and your housemates now and in the future? While it’s certainly not a requirement, it’s a welcome convenience to have an extra bathroom on the main floor for visitors.
If you’re one of the 79% of home buyers who want an open concept floor plan, you need to add this factor to your home buying checklist! An open concept makes entertaining easier while making the home feel more spacious and flowing.
Number of stories
The number of stories in a home’s floor plan is critical for buyers who want to live a stairless lifestyle. One-story ranch floorplans are frequently found in active adult 55+ communities, while two- and three-story plans are popular in neighborhoods with many families.
Number of garage spaces
It’s challenging to add garage spaces to a property. For buyers who own multiple cars or have many drivers living under one roof, having enough parking spaces in the garage is important. Equally important to having enough car space is having enough storage space for tools, lawn equipment, and other garage items.
If you’re considering new construction, you may be faced with the decision between a spec house vs. a presale home. New construction typically allows you to change or choose the interior factors you want, like floorplan and number of bedrooms. Our most popular floor plans have a few things in common, but one of the top advantages of building with Brock Built is personalizing your home, so you don’t have to settle.
Walls, Floors, and Permanent Fixtures
A smart home buyer will pay special attention to the home's " bones:" the walls, floors, and permanent fixtures. These items will tell potential buyers how well previous homebuyers maintained the home, the construction quality, and the expected lifespan.
Walls and floors can show signs of water damage, termites, and settling. Are the floors scratched, stained, or warped? If so, you may be responsible for defects and costly repairs.
You can fix lingering pet odor with a deep clean and carpet shampoo, but mildew and smoke odors may mean a more severe issue with the home.
Do you like the style of the interior structure? Demolishing walls and swapping original flooring for the latest flooring trends can be costly and time-consuming.
Sometimes converted garages, guest houses, and converted porches were added onto homes without proper permits. Unpermitted additions are liable for city fines and may not be built to code. This could result in dangerous conditions for you and your family.
House Hunting Checklist: Exterior Factors
For the grand finale–the curb appeal! Though you’ll spend most of your time inside your home, the outside makes the first impression on visitors and neighbors.
Your backyard can be a flowering garden oasis or a small and manageable strip of grass. No matter which type of yard you prefer, you’ll be ready for warmer days in your private lot.
Backyard size is a personal preference. Single-family home buyers may search for acres of green space for gardening or playing sports, while townhome buyers may have a “small, low-maintenance yard” on their home buying checklist.
A private swimming pool in your backyard is like being on vacation every day. Get ready to host all of your friends and family during summer break!
Patio and Porch
There’s nothing like listening to birds chirp from your private patio or porch. If you love spending time outdoors, but like to be a doorway away from air conditioning, patios, porches, and even screened porches are a welcome addition to your backyard.
If you’ve got a furry four-legged friend (or kids), a fenced backyard is essential to keep them from wandering away from home. Buying a house with a fenced yard is ready for you from the day you move in!
Speaking of greenspace, lush landscaping adds natural beauty to any home. But along with that beauty comes more work around the house. Do you have a green thumb?
Does the current landscaping require high or low maintenance, and are you ready for the job? Some community HOAs include landscape maintenance in their amenity package, but many communities require homeowners to upkeep their yards and landscaping.
Installed irrigation systems can help you maintain the grass and other landscaping, making upkeep easier–and more enjoyable! If these systems exist, it’s recommended to check the age and condition to ensure they’re in proper working order.
Landscape restrictions may prevent you from making desired changes to a property. For example, the City of Atlanta Tree Ordinance states, “No person shall directly or indirectly remove or destroy [or injure] any tree located on public property… or any tree having a diameter at breast height (DBH) of six inches or more which is located on private property… without obtaining a permit…” (Sec. 158-101)
Exterior Finishes & Materials
A home’s exterior materials, finishes, and construction quality are important to review, as they can provide clues about the house's overall condition. A home inspection will find any significant flaws, though some issues may be visible.
A home may have siding, brick, stone, or a combination of exterior materials. Exterior materials, like cracking or missing pieces, may show signs of wear or settling.
Replacing a roof is an expensive project, so newly installed roofs are an attractive feature. Check the roof for aging, missing shingles, leaks, or signs of prior damage.
Solar panels are a desirable modern feature that creates a sustainable way to maintain electricity in the home. Because these systems are relatively new to residential real estate, it’s crucial to understand how they work, if warranties exist, and how to get support for the systems should something go wrong.
Aesthetically, windows let natural light into your home. On the other hand, they can let in heat and water from the elements outside which can damage your home and drive up energy costs. Windows need to be replaced every 15 to 30 years.
The foundation of your home is essential; it’s where the entire construction process begins and the structure's basis. You can see signs of foundation issues in the basement, along the interior and exterior walls, and in ceilings.
House Hunting FAQs
When buying a house, checklist factors like overall condition, price, style, neighborhood, community amenities, and floorplan are all important details to look at when touring homes. While you can easily change aesthetic components of the home to suit your style, structure and system changes can be expensive to replace, so it’s worthwhile to pay close attention to the condition and age of these details. Additionally, as much as you love a home, you can never change its location!
Your house hunting checklist should include the features and details most important to your lifestyle. It should also have practical factors like condition, age, and price. All the items listed above are an excellent place to start when creating your home buying checklist!
The most important thing to avoid when house hunting is making a quick decision without evaluating all the buying a house checklist factors listed above. Rushing a significant decision such as your first home may lead you to feel buyer’s remorse if you choose a home that doesn’t check your prioritized boxes.
You should have roughly 25% of the purchase price saved before purchasing a home. Estimated costs associated with purchasing a home include:
- Down payment: 3-20%
- Closing costs: 2-5%
- Home inspection: $500
A home buying checklist is a helpful frame of reference for comparing interiors, exteriors, and neighborhoods of potential homes. Without the guidance of a first home checklist, your first home purchase may feel disorganized and confusing. On the other hand, house hunting with a checklist will provide an easy way to compare all the houses you’re viewing, including important structural factors and aesthetic details. Using a home buying checklist will make you feel confident as you await the news on your submitted offer!