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What to look for when viewing a house for sale (so you don't miss key details)

“Always pick your yard based on your Summer lifetstyle.”


July 4, 2019 - Karl Yeh

When viewing a show home or a resale home what should you look for? How should you prepare? In this episode, we discuss what to look for when viewing a home for sale including key items that may be hidden by marketing or home preparation. We also explore how long your viewings should last, how to prepare before visiting the home and how to review the home's exterior.

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Hi everyone, I'm Karl. Welcome to another Homebuyer's School video, a channel where you get the latest strategies, tactics, and tips from home buying experts. And remember, if this is your first time on this channel and you want to get the latest strategies from the experts, hit the subscription button below, hit the little notification bell so you don't miss anything.

So [00:00:30] today, I'm joined by Kevin French, Realtor with RE/MAX.

And the question we're going to answer is:

What to look for when viewing a home?

So what are some things you're looking for when you're actually viewing a show home?

Kevin French:                A show home, specifically?

Karl Yeh:                       A show home or a home that you're thinking of buying. So whether it's a show home-

Kevin French:                Or a resale home?

Karl Yeh:                       ... or a resale home.

Kevin French:               


Quality and finish.

So I think it goes without saying, you're going to look, it already ticks the boxes of, you want the three bedrooms, or the four [00:01:00] bedrooms, or whatever your needs are, and that's why you're in that property.

But then from there, you going to look at:

  • does the home feel like it's well taken care of ?
  • Does the home feel like it's properly built?
  • Does the home seem to have any safety concerns?
  • And then does it have an open concept? It's obviously very big for resale.

So does it feel like it's a great area to entertain in? Everybody has different needs, but without a doubt the mass wants an open concept.

They want the home to feel bright and open. [00:01:30] And then understanding your exposure that you're going to be getting.

So if you have an end unit home for the block or an end unit townhouse, what kind of sunshine is going to come through?

Having a home that shows very bright and feels very large is always better in the end than something that feels very dark and closed off [00:02:00].

Walking through the home though, you'll be able to pick up on numerous small things throughout, and it'll give you a feeling that the home is well taken care of and it feels good to be here or it feels  like it's been abused or poorly constructed.

What are some key things to look for that could be hidden by great marketing or home preparation?

Karl Yeh:                      

So for a resale home, if the person has hired a really good realtor like yourself, and they do a really good job of preparing the home, maybe too good of a job that you don't see some of the flaws or things.

So are there things that you should really key in on when you're going into, let's say specifically a resale home, that could be hidden [00:02:30] by the marketing or the really great house prep that that realtor or that person has done?

Kevin French:               

So they shouldn't be hiding anything that's a material latent defect. 

That's of course a defect that is expensive to fix and can't be seen or can't be easily discoverable during a home inspection.

But I would say most of the time the properties are going to show as they are.

You can get caught up in the this space feels larger than it does because it has [00:03:00] smaller scale furniture that makes the living room feel like it's large.

Now, a lot of people have their furniture that they're intending to bring with them and they're going to measure accordingly and see how it fits, or they can buy new stuff.

But the reality is, if it looks like it seats four, it doesn't seat four comfortably if you were to use this furniture. So think about in the way you're actually going to use the space.

On the other side, there's people who don't take the proper steps prior to listing and the properties don't show at their best.

So you turn a corner and they've got a sectional [00:03:30] that closes off the living room, and the kitchen is on this side. It feels uncomfortable. So the sectional should be really positioned differently.

Even though that's not in line with the TV directly, which is a big thing, it makes the space feel more open. So a buyer would go into a property and say it feels small, it feels closed off.

It could be the exact same home they just saw that they loved and that's the same layout. But they feel like it's that because of the way everything is positioned.

So getting beyond that, that's actually working in your favor as a buyer because the seller didn't [00:04:00] take the proper steps prior to listing to make it show at it's best.

So they're getting negative feedback, particularly in this market, over and over again. It feels small, it feels closed off, it feels dark, don't like the feature wall paint that's burgundy, black, dark gray.

Those things should all be taken care prior to listing so that it feels larger.

But if they don't know that ahead of time and they're not doing that work ahead of time, they're going to think the only solution they have for selling is price reductions.

And they'll just keep pricing it lower and lower until ultimately it will sell.

But you can take advantage [00:04:30] of that by understanding the realities of the space.

Karl Yeh:                      

So how long should a typical viewing last for?

If we walked through this show home, so it was really nice, everything is prepped, you can through it in what, five, ten minutes? But should you take longer?

Kevin French:               

Five, ten minutes if you're doing ... Typically you can book a second showing.

Most people who are interested, they don't just go through one time for 10, 15 minutes and say, "Let's buy the home." They book a second [00:05:00] showing, they go through more thorough, and that's where they spend 45, up to an hour. And then from there, they make an offer.

If they offer is accepted, then they have a home inspection.

And then they're going to be in there for two to three hours at that time.

Karl Yeh:                       Got it. And

Is there anything I should do to prepare when I'm actually going to view a home?

Is there like a checklist I need to do? I probably just don't want to show up and just have a look at the home, right?

Kevin French:               

Yeah, you would want to make a list.

There's generic lists out there that real estate agents have, [00:05:30] or could have, and use that just say the basics of the community, the size, the bedrooms.

But beyond that, you are going to want to make your own wish list essentially of what you're looking for.

And describe what your day-to-day life is:

If it's coming home and relaxing and watching TV, you don't necessarily need a big open space for entertaining.

If it's having people over for dinner, then you're going to want a space that can hold a large dining table, probably seating at the island if there is [00:06:00] one, things like that.

If you want to have more than two children, you're probably going to want a fourth bedroom.

But thinking about those things above grade or if you want them in the basement. Typically you're going to find the fourth bedroom in the basement.

But if you want the fourth bedroom to be above grade, it's a lot harder to find.

But you make your own wish list essentially, while you're shopping, that's custom to what your need are.

Reviewing the exterior of a home

Karl Yeh:                      

Got it. Let's talk about, yes you want a view inside the house, but if there anything you want to do outside the home? Whether [00:06:30] it's around the property or even the general neighborhood, what are some things, anything that you want to take a look at? While you're there, right?

Kevin French:               

So the exterior of the property is mostly going to be covered through the home inspection, but it's making sure that the roof is in good condition, all the exterior, the siding, the eaves troughs, everything are as they should be.

And then from there, consider how you want to landscape the property. Do you want to build a deck or do you want to build a patio?

Patios, in my opinion, give a lot more privacy because they're on the ground.

So then when you can only have a six foot fence, you're sitting there versus sitting [00:07:00] three or four feet in the air, you can see over the fence, see all your neighbors.

Karl Yeh:                       And they can see you.

Kevin French:               

Yeah, and they can see you. So thinking about the landscaping aspect.

And then when you leave there, it's what's the proximity to any parks if those are important, proximity to amenities, and then ... Like I said, sometimes you can get trapped.

You go out and you look at a brand new home or you look at a resale property, and you're looking at 15 ... So it's two minutes to get to this one, two minutes to get to that one, and you don't realize by the end of it, the home that you love is 15 minutes in the back of the community.

So then, you go ahead and you purchase that [00:07:30] home, and then you realize, "Well I purchased it a Saturday afternoon at 3:00. And now I have to go to work at seven a.m. and it takes me 25 minutes to get out of my community."

That can be frustrating.

So I encourage people if they're serious about a property and concerned about that, go there and spend a Monday morning. Get back in the community and then leave at the time that you'd leave for work. It seem crazy to be doing that, but you're going to live here for years and years.

Karl Yeh:                       Yes, you might as well.

Kevin French:                It's worth one day.

Karl Yeh:                      

I think so too. I think maybe [00:08:00] not all the show homes you visit, but the one you really feel attached to, or the house.

Take that drive to work and see actually how long it actually takes, right? And this sounds crazy, but maybe do it during rush hour because it's easy-

Kevin French:               

Oh, always do it during rush hour. For sure. Get a real understanding of what it is. Do it at your normal schedule.

Karl Yeh:                      

So if you want to learn more about how to prepare when buying a house, check out our video above and the description below.


So Kevin, do you have anything else to add in terms of what to look for when viewing a house?

Kevin French:                [00:08:30]

I would say the most important is, that people get caught up in, that I often see mistakes within, is square footage is not the exact same across the board.

I think that's pretty obvious.

If it's 1000 square feet here, it is not 1000 square feet there. They're all configured differently. So having an intelligently designed home goes much, much further.

And the biggest thing when you're looking at townhouses or attached homes is width.

So a lot of people don't understand, this home feels [00:09:00] so much larger and it's the same size as the last one.

It often comes down to the width of the home and feeling like you're closed in and in a narrow place that has lots of length, but you're doing a direct set of stairs, and then a set of stairs, a set of stairs.

So you've got three stories that have 1500 square feet.

Or you can have a wider property that has 1500 square feet over two stories, which feels much more like a single family detached home. It feels much more comfortable.

Question of the day

Karl Yeh:                      

Okay. So the question of the day I had for you is [00:09:30] ,

What do you look for when you go visit a show home or a home that you're interested in buying?

Let us know in the comment section below.

Karl Yeh:                      

And if you want to know more about home buying and the home buying process, make sure to watch our videos here, and well as don't forget to hit the subscribe button to keep learning from the experts. Thank you and we'll catch you in our next video.


Your turn:

Let us know if you have additional home buying related questions that we can answer by submitting them in the comments section below. 

Homebuyer's School publishes new content weekly so subscribe or check back regularly for the latest information, strategies and tips from home buying experts.  

About Kevin French:

Kevin French is a Calgary and area based realtor with a client focus.  He specializes in a stress free home selling process that is built on customer service.  Understanding that your home is one of your largest investments, Kevin employs a marketing mix that ensures you will maximize returns on your home sale. Diligent market research coupled with an in-depth understanding of the Calgary and area markets, allows Kevin to pinpoint the perfect price for your home.

In addition to perfect pricing, Kevin offers a suite of additional services such as professional photography  and an interior designer to ensure your home shows its best. Kevin French has become a trusted name in real estate because he is results driven and works closely with his clients to produce the best results.

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