Looking beyond the WOW factor when buying a house

A lot of effort goes into a house when a seller is preparing their house for sale – this may include renos, paint jobs, new appliances, counter tops and much more. With this article the purpose is not to discourage sellers from doing any renovations, nor does it mean that people who are looking for homes should discount any of the seller's efforts. The article is just to provide few points for buyers to make sure they look beyond that WOW factor and are able to make the best decision for themselves and their family.

It all starts with the show appointments, usually they are booked for 30-45 minutes and from what I have seen, they are done within 5-10 minutes. My request is to "Spend The Time", take 30 minutes, look around, examine, this may be the biggest investment of your life. Plus, it will save you gas and time as you will not have to make another trip to the house.

One good practise is – take notes, it will help you remember the property. You can also discuss this option with your realtor and see if he/she is taking notes for you. You may also want to take pictures of specific areas along with your notes. (With owner’s permission of course). 

Following are few things that could help you save time and money.


  • Drive around the area to see if you like the neighbourhood, this could mean checking for any loud neighbours, street lighting, walkways, street maintenance and much more
  • Check how far out is public transport, hospital, rec centers, gyms or shopping centers. You may be using one of these when you move in and proximity of it will determine how much you can save on gas and time
  • Is it one of those streets, where there is no parking or there is too much traffic for you?
  • Do you love gardening? Is it a yard you will be able to maintain? Ask yourself all these questions, as these things impact your daily routine
  • Check if there is any fencing or gates, these can cost you money if they are broken or not compliant as per city rules
  • Check the property all around, the position of the house, this will help you figure out the privacy and whether the house is getting natural light or not
  • Check the driveway, is it in good shape? Will it meet your requirements of parking?
  • Look at the roof, is it sagging from one end or the other, this could mean structural issues
  • Check the gutters, are they rusted or leaking?, if something doesn’t fit right, make a note and ask, there could be drainage issues and fixing it can be expensive


  • Check the windows, make sure the trim is not ripped, this could mean rot and also check that glass is not broken – if it is, make a note of it and get it replaced as part of your deal or get an estimate and you should be able to deduct that price from the offer
  • Check for any cracks or damps. Feel the walls and look for any sings of peeling this could mean mould and cost to you
  • Check the ceiling, look for any spots or discolouring, if that is the case, there may have been leaks and you want to make sure either those are fixed or getting fixed
  • Check the floors for any cracks or holes, this could mean rest area for insects
  • Kitchens and Bathrooms looks amazing with granite/quartz counter tops and new basins, however make sure to look for any moulds or leaks, turn the taps on and let them run for few seconds and you may want try the same with tubs/shower
  • Check for broken tiles or loose grout in kitchen and bathrooms
  • Make sure to check the quality of all the cupboards and drawers in kitchen and bathrooms, sometimes things may look great on outside, but the actual quality and working of it may not be what you desire
  • Check the Hot water system, look for any leaks, rust and age. Replacing Hot water tanks is expensive
  • Is the house centrally heated or air conditioned? How old are the units? When were they serviced last time? All of this will help you get an idea of any cost related to these units
  • If storage was an issue in your previous place, make sure you look for storage in this house, sheds or crawl space can provide you that extra space you may be looking for
  • Check the garage, some people have stuff stored in garage, this could mean stuff has not been moved in years and there may be rodents or cockroaches, make sure you inspect the garage fully
  • Try closing and opening the garage door, you want to make sure the garage opener is working and the space is not just being used as storage
  • Check if each room has enough electrical outlets, some rooms are built after the city inspection and if that is the case, this may end up costing you if you are looking to add more outlets
  • Are there any odd shaped rooms, this is also a case of room built after city inspection, just cause it’s an extra room, see if it fits in your design and use
  • If the appliances are not part of the offer, measure the kitchen and laundry areas to make sure your appliances like refrigerators, stove, washer/dryer, microwave fits, this will save you time and hassle of going back and forth
  • If you are planning on buying new furniture or have some ideas about your existing furniture, try to picture your furniture in the new house, this will help you see if the furniture will actually fit in the new house
  • Some people have mirrors or fixtures attached to the walls, please do not hesitate to ask if they will remain with the house or if they are seller's property and will be going away, this will give you an idea if you need to repatch a wall or repaint it. You dont want to be surprised afterwards
  • Check your mobile signal, if your work runs on your mobile phone, and signal is week, then this can cause you quite a grief afterwards


You may also want to get a Home Inspection done before you purchase the house, it may cost few hundred dollars but it will be worth it to get an expert opinion. Home inspections can be added as a subject in the contract of sale and purchase

Home buying can be a daunting and complex process. But with a REALTOR® at your side, it doesn't have to be. Remember, a REALTOR® works for you and is there to look after your best interests. http://www.howrealtorshelp.ca/buying.php


Please feel free to add comments, thoughts or suggestions. I would love to hear from you


Sid Sidhu