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  • Alexander Wissel

House Hunting Secrets: Key Features to Look For In a Home!

House Hunting Secrets Part 2~ Not 'Just For Pretty'

  • Evaluate the condition of walls and paint, considering cracks, stains, and color choices. Assess lighting fixtures for placement, type, and quality, ensuring they align with your preferences.

  • Note the windows and their ages, flooring type, quality, & condition, and evaluate storage space availability.

  • Pay attention to the HVAC, home systems and the roof as these are major expenses.

House Hunting Secrets & Key Features to Look For - Source:
House Hunting Secrets & Key Features to Look For

Whether you're a first-time buyer or an experienced homeowner looking to upgrade, it's important to keep your focus on the details of a home. Especially ones that can’t be changed vs the ones that can.

To help you in home shopping journey, we've compiled a list of essential house hunting secrets and tips to look for when searching for your dream home. This is Part 2 of a two part article on things to look for when house hunting. You can catch up by reading the other article here: House Hunting 101. Today we’re looking at the specific features of a home.

In this article, we will explore the key details within the house that you should carefully evaluate during your house hunting process. We’ll start with items that we feel are least important and get more crucial as we go.

When house hunting, you should be looking for specific things around the home. Paint colors and lighting fixtures, flooring and architectural details are important to note. But make sure you are checking out the bathrooms, and kitchen. The HVAC, roof and mechanical systems are some of the biggest expenses in a home should you need to replace them.

Walls and Paint

Inspect the walls for any cracks, water stains, or signs of damage. Additionally, consider the paint colors and finishes used. Neutral tones provide versatility and make it easier to personalize the space with your preferred decor.

Assess the condition of the paint and evaluate whether a fresh coat will be necessary upon moving in. If the home is older than 1978, consider whether anything has been painted with lead paint. Paint is one of the cheapest things to change in a home. Please don’t make a decision on your home purchase based on paint colors.

Lighting Fixtures

The lighting fixtures in a home contribute to its ambiance and functionality. Assess the placement, type, and quality of the lighting fixtures throughout the house. Consider whether they align with your personal taste. Lighting is another inexpensive option to quickly update a dated home.

If necessary, determine if you need to add additional fixtures to suit your preferences. This can easily be done by an electrician. I’ve walked into a lot of dark homes that would have shown better with an investment in ceiling lights.


The flooring sets the foundation for the overall ambiance and functionality of a home. Pay attention to the type, quality, and condition of the flooring materials. Common options include hardwood, laminate, tile, carpet, or vinyl. Evaluate their durability, maintenance requirements, and suitability for your lifestyle.

Many older homes have beautiful wooden floors that are covered up by wall-to-wall carpeting. If you have allergies, and plan to remove carpet, check near vent covers or in the backs of closets to see if there are wood floors beneath. Wood floors can be an expensive upgrade, so find good condition floors under carpeting is literally like finding money.

Storage Space

Adequate storage space is a valuable asset in any home. Assess the closets, cabinets, and other storage solutions available throughout the house. Consider whether they will comfortably accommodate your belongings.

Ample storage can help maintain a clutter-free environment and make your daily life more organized. This goes for garage, attic and basement storage. Do you have lots of holiday decorations? Figure out where your new home could store them, or where you could add storage.

Architectural Details

Pay attention to the architectural details within the house, such as crown molding, baseboards, and trim work. Some older homes have beautiful plaster detailing on the ceilings. These details add a touch of elegance and can enhance the overall aesthetic appeal of the space.

The craftsmanship and condition of these features can significantly contribute to the character of your new home. They can also add a lot of maintenance costs if they aren’t in good condition. It’d be a shame to buy an old Victorian and not be able to repair or replace the gingerbread moulding around the home. Consider the upkeep of these beautiful details.


The kitchen is often the heart of the home, so it's crucial to examine its features closely. Evaluate the quality of the cabinets, countertops, and appliances. Consider the layout and storage options available. Look for modern features such as energy-efficient appliances, ample counter space, and functional storage solutions.

A well-designed kitchen can enhance your cooking experience and add value to your home. A poorly designed one, or one that was just redone badly are expenses you’ll be tacking onto your purchase price once you realize you need to redo everything.


Bathrooms are essential spaces that deserve attention during the house hunting process. Inspect the condition of the bathroom fixtures, such as sinks, toilets, and showers or bathtubs.

Assess the quality of the tiles and grout, and look for any signs of water damage. Water is incredibly damaging – as is the mold it fosters – when it isn’t maintained. Don’t forget to consider the storage options available in the bathroom and evaluate whether they are enough.

HVAC and Systems

It's essential to evaluate the HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning), Furnaces, auxiliary heating and cooling systems. And don’t forget the hot water heater! Check the age and condition of the heating and cooling units. Look if there are company maintenance stickers on them to see if they have had regular check-ups.

These systems are expensive to replace, so if it’s past it’s prime, you need to know. A water heater (lasting roughly 7 years) is about $1600, while a full HVAC (lasting around 15-25 years) can run $7k-$25k or more. You don’t want to be caught unawares if your home needs these.


Windows play a significant role in both the aesthetic appeal and functionality of a home. Look for energy-efficient windows that provide proper insulation and help regulate indoor temperatures. Consider the size, placement, and condition of the windows, as well as the quality of the window frames.

Older windows can have lead paint on them and they can leak like a sieve. We tell clients to estimate that windows can cost $750 each. Complex or showy windows can cost much more. A whole house window replacement is a big expense.

Roof and Exterior

The roof is a critical component of any home, so it's crucial to assess its condition. Look for signs of damage, missing shingles, or any indication of leaks. Inquire about the roof's age and whether it has been repaired or replaced recently. A new roof starts at $7k in our area and goes well into the $20k-$40k range.

Pay attention to the exterior condition of the house, including the siding, gutters, and drainage systems. Know whether your siding is wood (needing regular painting), siding (aluminum or plastic), asbestos tiles (expensive to replace and remove), or if there is something else. Brick and stone both have advantages and disadvantages worth knowing too.

House Hunting Secrets Make You a Smarter Shopper

When I’m hosting an open house, I aways try to have the dates of the HVAC, roof, water heater and home memorized. Because I know that’s what buyers should be asking me about.

When house hunting, it can be easy to get wrapped up in the things you’re not buying – like furniture, home decor and stye elements. But it’s important to focus on the systems and features of your potential new home. House hunting secrets shouldn't be secret... everyone shopping should be looking for every item on this list.

Make checklists and consider all the interior features that you love and those that you would need to replace or repair. Keeping your eye on these and treating them for hat they are – potential expenses – can help you make a decision to put an offer on a home.


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