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How to Spot a Good Home

By October 19, 2023April 10th, 2024Living Along The Wasatch Front

5 Tips for Recognizing Quality Construction

Modern technology has given us so many options for viewing homes for sale. In addition to the traditional open houses, there are virtual tours, videos on social media, and endless apps for accessing listings. All of these methods can be useful when you start your preliminary home search.

But what should you be looking for and how can you spot potential problems?

Information is power, which is why we’ve put together this list of simple ways to recognize well-built homes. Remember, this is FAR from a comprehensive list. Our professional real estate agents are experts in identifying and evaluating homes to suit your personal needs. They also have a reliable network of professionals to coordinate the necessary inspections and repairs.

Tip #1: When It Comes to Homes, Age Is Not Just a Number

The telltale signs of quality construction depend on the age of the home. Within the Salt Lake Valley you’ll find homes ranging from the early 1900s (such as in Yalecrest and the Avenues) to homes in new developments that are still being built today (such as in Daybreak and Bluffdale). For this reason, we’ve included tips from our Principal Broker Karly Nielsen, who specializes in Yalecrest, and Realtor April Stilson, who lives and works in South Jordan.

Tip #2: Look For “Good Bones” in Older Homes

We love old homes–the detailed craftsmanship and the character that comes with age. Along with these attractive traits comes higher costs for maintenance. When considering an older home, Karly recommends focusing on these three areas:

a. To quickly assess a home’s foundation look at the exterior for signs of large settling. This often shows on the brick (like stair stepping) or large cracks. Notice how doors and windows operate. Difficulty opening and closing may indicate a misalignment. Involving a home inspector and/or structural engineer is imperative if you notice concerning signs of settling.

b. Homes built prior to 1978 will have traces of lead paint and often asbestos. These products were widely used but are now deemed a health hazard if consumed by pets or humans. When left undisturbed, there is no concern. However, if you’re considering a remodel or upgrade, you must involve professionals to remove these hazardous air-borne elements safely.

c. Original windows can be a lovely feature in an old home. However, old windows are usually less efficient and were not built with the same safety standards used today. When looking at a home with older windows, think about whether someone could safely use the windows as an exit in the event of a fire. Replacing or restoring windows can be an expensive endeavor but it can pay off in savings on your utilities.

Tip #3: Know the Red Flags for Newer Homes

One of the advantages of newer homes is that they generally cost less in upkeep than old homes. But new homes can be “lemons”. Always keep an eye out for these red flags:

a. Just like with older homes, begin your assessment on the outside. Sagging gutters, peeling paint, or a deteriorating roof could be indicators of potential structural issues. Test all doors to ensure they open and close smoothly. Misaligned doors could indicate a potential issue with the home’s frame. As you go through the home, try to operate the windows. Sticky windows might point to foundation problems. Worn-out, uneven, or bouncy floors might indicate foundation or structural issues.

b. Water damage can be a significant headache for homeowners. During your walkthrough, look for stains on walls and ceilings, soft spots on the floor, or musty odors. These could indicate leaks or water infiltration. Also pay attention to the HVAC system. Listen for unusual sounds or strange smells when the system is running.

c. Another indication of quality construction is the type of materials that have been used. Hardwood floors, natural stone countertops, and eco-friendly insulation are all good signs and contribute to the home’s elegance and longevity. It’s also fair to expect current technology and energy-efficient features, like smart home systems, in a recently built home.

Tip #4: You Can (Kind Of) Choose Your Neighbors

Neighborhood is one of the most important factors to consider when looking for a new home. All Niche Homes agents agree that it’s smart to spend time in the neighborhoods you’re considering. Take a walk in the area and pay attention to noise levels, traffic, and proximity to businesses. Look carefully at the other properties for signs of neglect or vacant houses. Does it seem like a community you’d like to be a part of? We pride ourselves on understanding the nuances of the various neighborhoods throughout the Salt Lake Valley and can help you find your niche

Tip #5: Homes Are Our Business

Purchasing a home is a major investment and we appreciate the importance of making the best decision. Our Realtors are highly-trained in providing proper guidance throughout your home search and they have the expertise to negotiate terms that reflect the actual condition of a home when you’re ready to make an offer. If you’re starting the home buying process, we urge you to read this article about the value of hiring a Realtor.

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