100 less obvious but important questions to ask before buying a house

Having been a homeowner for a few years, I’ve gradually compiled an assorted list of questions when it comes to what makes a house good (for me—what is truly important will vary by person). Note: this list is not so much about the process of purchasing a house or getting a mortgage. Rather, it’s centered around the question of what would make for a home I would enjoy living in for the next several years or decades. That is, what would I would look for in my next home if I were to ever move and find myself in a situation to buy another house? Some of the questions on my list are pretty obvious, but others are hyperspecific and/or less common—the kind of things you might not think about until you’ve lived in a house for a while. Here are 100 things to keep in mind next time you tour a house that you are seriously considering, starting with the more obvious stuff:

The usual questions

1. What year was the house built?

2. Is the design relatively modern? Will anything need to be renovated?

3. Is it being sold by the original owner?

4. Is this a smart investment?

5. How is the price relative to comparable homes (going by location, size, built year, condition, construction style and materials, schools, proximity to cool stuff, etc.)?

6. Is there and will there be new construction in the area that could potentially affect existing home prices?

7. What is the property tax situation?

8. When were the house’s major systems last replaced? E.g. roofing, floors, HVAC, plumbing, etc.

9. What is the general condition and quality of the exterior?

10. Is the exterior completely brick or does it only cover the facade?

11. If there is any brick in the exterior, is the brick chipped?

12. Are the shingles/roofing in good condition?

13. What is the general condition of the interior? Any unevenness, blotches, chips, or cracks in the paint?

14. What is the quality of the paint? Examine the corners and edges between walls to see if there is any cracking.

15. Are there any rooms that are painted weird colors or have weird wallpaper?

16. What material is used in the floors?

17. Are the floors real hardwood or laminate? What kind of wood?

18. If tile flooring, is it real porcelain/ceramic?

19. Does the floorboard creak anywhere?

Less obvious questions

20. Is there hardwood throughout? Which rooms have carpet?

21. Is the dining room carpeted?

22. What room(s) is the outside HVAC unit next to? Will it be annoyingly loud when you’re hanging out in those rooms with the AC on?

23. What damages or repairs has the house experienced? E.g. flooding, fire, etc.

24. What condition is the house’s insulation?

25. What is the condition of the windows? Are they clean and easily openable?

26. Are the window sills wide enough for your cats to hang out on?

27. Do the windows all have blinds and screens installed?

28. Is the garage clean?

29. Are the garage doors in working condition?

30. Is the garage front-facing or is it on the side of the house?

31. How do the basement and attic look?

32. Is it easy to access the basement and attic?

33. Are there cracks or weeds in the driveway?

34. Is the driveway long enough to accommodate multiple vehicles?

35. What is the location of the kitchen? Is it right up against an exterior wall? (Will bugs get inside when they smell you cutting fruit?)

36. Does the kitchen have enough natural light?

37. What is the style and condition of the kitchen’s counters, cabinets, and backsplash?

38. What upgrades have been made? Are there any upgrades you would want to make either immediately or in the future?

39. What appliances come with the house? What appliances will you have to buy?

40. What is the color/quality/age/condition of the appliances?

41. Were there previously any animals living in the house? If so, what cleaning measures have been performed?

42. Check the edges and sides of the doors; are there any doors with chips or marks?

43. How open or closed is the floor plan?

44. Is there both a living room and a great room?

45. Do the sizes of the living room and great room make sense? What about their locations relative to each other?

46. Is there a breakfast nook by the kitchen?

47. Is there a good place to put a main TV in the house?

48. Is there a good place to set up an office in the house?

49. Is the fireplace unintrusive?

50. Is the use of space efficient? Are there a bunch of weird-shaped rooms (e.g. slanted ceilings) or useless built-ins?

51. Are there any ledges in the floor or elevation changes that could trip you up as you walk between rooms?

52. Are the stairs a comfortable height without excessive overhang?

53. Do the ceilings feel tall and spacious enough, or is there a hint of claustrophobia?

54. Is there adequate lighting in each room and hallway?

55. What kind of lights are there (hopefully no ugly mushrooms)?

56. Are there any lights that are super high up or would be annoying to replace?

57. Do the light switches have dimmers? Do the lights hum or whine when they are turned on?

58. What about natural light?

59. What directions are the windows in the house?

60. What will each room look like in the morning and afternoon?

61. Is there a sun room? If so, is it adequately protected from the elements?

62. Do the bedroom sizes and locations make sense?

63. Is the master bedroom upstairs?

64. What is the closet situation for the master bedroom and other bedrooms?

65. Do the bathroom sizes and locations make sense?

66. Is there a bathroom downstairs?

67. Is the laundry room downstairs?

68. What is the quality of the counters, cabinets, fixtures, toilets, sinks, tubs, showerheads, and tiles in each bathroom?

69. Are the toilets at an ergonomic size and height?

70. Do the faucets work? Does the water feel hard or soft?

71. What kind of showerheads are there?

72. Is there a good foyer area in both the front entrance and garage entrance, to take off and store shoes and coats?

73. Is it easy for bugs to get inside the house? (E.g. old windows or doors that don’t fully close, shrubbery too close to the house, etc.)

74. Check the edges of the carpet/floor where it meets the wall; are there any dead bugs?

75. How well sealed are the doors to the house? (Remember to check every door: front, back, garage.)

76. Is the yard too big, too small, or about the right size?

77. Is there an irrigation system to water the lawn?

78. Is there a front porch and/or back deck? Can you see yourself chilling on the front and back porches, or will they go unused?

79. What is the distance between the house and neighbor’s houses?

80. How many neighbors are adjacent to the house?

81. Are there any awkward window views? Either from neighbors looking out their windows or from you looking out your windows?

82. What is the state of trees and vegetation around the house?

83. How many trees and shrubs are there? Will there need to be a lot of mowing and landscaping maintenance?

84. Are there any trees that block natural light?

85. Are there any trees that are are likely to fall (e.g. because they were planted too shallow in the ground)?

86. Are the trees well-positioned to provide privacy from your neighbors?

87. What is the relative location of the house? E.g. middle of the street, corner, cul de sac, etc.

88. How far away is the nearest major thoroughfare?

89. How easy is it to back out of the driveway and get onto a busy street? Are there dedicated traffic lights?

90. What is the level of noise pollution at different times of day?

91. How far away is the nearest railroad track, airport, fire station, police station, hospital?

92. How far of a walk/drive is it from important locations? (E.g. stores, parks, libraries, dining, entertainment, etc.)

93. Is the area walkable? Are there sidewalks outside the house?

94. What internet service providers and speeds are available?

95. Do all rooms have ethernet ports on the wall?

96. Does each room have an adequate number of conveniently placed power outlets?

97. What is the general demographic makeup of the neighborhood w/r/t age? E.g. retirees, families, young professionals, etc.

98. Is there a homeowners association?

99. What is the HOA fee? What services does the fee include?

100. Does the house come with garbage and recycling bins? Which companies provide those services for the neighborhood?