Looking for that perfect new home can be an exciting time, but it can also be a lot of work. Before you head out to hit a handful of open houses or follow your real estate agent around town, you should think about what you are looking for in a new home. Location is always key, but there are lots of other factors to keep in mind before you even step over the threshold of a house. So today I offer you a few tips on what to keep in mind when you are house hunting;


  1. Look beyond the picture: While real estate agents usually suggest people depersonalize a home before putting it on the market, some folks just can’t bear to part with their family portraits. The challenge then is for you to see beyond the photos and picture yourself living in this house and making it a home of your own. Remember though that on moving day,  your new home will be a blank canvas for you to fill with your own memories.
  2. Put on your rose-coloured glasses: Or green, blue or gray goggles when looking at a home’s decor. Wall colour might make you cringe when you are poking around in a house that is for sale, but its a relatively easy and cheap thing to change.  Just because the bathroom is magenta, doesn’t mean you  have to live with that forever if you buy the house. Trendy colours change seasonally, so this is the perfect time to decorate the house of your dreams with your own colour palette.
  3. Count your blessings: And the number of bedrooms and bathrooms in the house. Be realistic about your needs and start by looking at homes that fit your requirements. If you can’t live without two bathrooms, then only look at homes that have at least two of them already. Same thing goes for bedrooms. If you are a family of three, then perhaps six bedrooms is a bit overkill. Major home renovations can be costly and unless you are willing and able to undertake them, save yourself the hassle of even considering it.
  4. Get down to the nitty-gritty: You have needs and one of them will be storage. While you are poking around bedrooms, bathrooms and the basement, check for it. Does the home have sufficient linen closets, bedroom closets and general storage for all of your stuff? Where are you going to put the hockey equipment, Christmas decorations and towels for the guest bedroom? These factors can sometimes be overlooked in the excitement of viewing houses, but you will be glad that you checked beforehand on moving day.
  5. Shine a light on: Because in the depths of winter you will really notice how bright or dreary the lighting in a house truly is. Does the house have large or small windows? Does it have any southern exposure? Are there overhead lights or will you have to buy a small army of lamps to illuminate the corners of the home? Some of these factors can be accommodated for, but if your collection of precious cacti require high lighting to survive, you better think about what they will have on offer if you make the house your home. Perhaps that perfect house would be suited for the vampires down the road instead.
  6. Touch wood: Or is it more like mop linoleum? What are you willing to live with, or not live without, as far as flooring goes? Carpet warms a floor, but isn’t always best for furry animals that shed or those with allergies. Linoleum can get dated and dirty in a hurry. Is there money in your budget to refinish wood floors  that have seen better days? My suggestion is to inspect every house from top to bottom and weigh its pros and cons before committing to anything.
  7. From earth to sky: And everything in between; you need to poke into it all. Check the roof and figure out when it was replaced last, with an eye to your budget if the shingles seem a little worn. Head to the basement and knock on the furnace. Furnace replacement can be a pricey endeavour, but can improve overall heating and cooling costs for operating a home. While you are at it, check on the hot water heater, humidifier, as well as the air conditioner unit, if the house has one. You can even get an idea as to the insulation of a home by feeling the temperature of the walls or quickly peering behind an exterior switch plate to see what that reveals (hopefully lots of R20 value).