No matter what kind of home you're looking for, there are some key features to consider. Always remember that you will find large townhouses and small single-family homes, so looking for what you want in a home is as important as the type of dwelling. Your REALTOR® will ask many questions before the hunt begins.
Where will your family spend most of its time? Kitchens are a popular family gathering area. Make sure your prospective kitchen can handle the traffic. You may also want an eat-in kitchen or one with a breakfast nook, allowing you to keep the dining room for special occasions.
How much bedroom space do you need? Some people prefer small, plentiful rooms to house children, frequent guests or a home office. Others prefer fewer, larger rooms. Of course, if your budget permits, many large rooms would probably be ideal!
Bathrooms are also a major point to consider. How many bathrooms does your family need to handle peak traffic times? Is one enough? (Not likely!) While one per person might be more like it, that dream may not be affordable. Make sure the home you're ready to purchase has sufficient bathroom space and that the bathrooms are comfortable. When looking at bathrooms, ask yourself how important a window is for light and fresh air.
Note: Hot water is always a problem with a large family. Remember, most hot water tanks are rented from the utility company. You can always have them upgrade the size of the hot water tank for a minimum cost.
When it's time to relax and entertain, how will your prospective home meet your needs? Do you want a formal living room, or a room where your family can stretch out and watch television? Do your children need a play area or your teens an entertainment room? Some homes have a living room and a family room.
Attics and basements can be wonderful storage areas, or can serve as additional living space. If extra space is important, you will want to consider a finished basement. Everyone seems to have their own definition of what this means. Take a good look at the workmanship. Was it done by a professional? Do you see yourself redoing a sloppy job? A poorly finished basement can be more work than a completely unfinished area. Some signs to watch out for are moisture along the floor lines and corners of all exterior walls and pungent odours which may also be a sign of moisture, mildew, and/or mold which can be costly to repair.
A brief word about closets. Look at the clothes you have now. Add another half, and then look for closet space to hold it all. If you're like most of us, you'll never have enough closet space!
Heating and cooling systems are also key features to consider. When it comes to heat, natural gas, oil and electric furnaces are all options. Older homes may even have hot-water radiators. Still other homes have baseboard heaters. Make sure you find out about the maintenance and condition of the heating system as well as annual operating costs. If you're thinking about air conditioning, think about how expensive it would be to add central air, or if a window unit would suffice. Try to get on to a "Homeowner's Insurance Plan" with the utility company. For a minimum annual fee you have guaranteed regular maintenance and repair. As you can imagine, each type of home has its advantages and drawbacks and no two buyers will have the exact same wants and needs. The only way to truly evaluate which home is right for you, outside of price, is to consider what you absolutely must have and what you can live without. Before you go house hunting, prepare a list of 'can't live without' features and a list of 'would be great if...' features.