Tips For Home Buyers

Tips For Home Buyers

Buying a home can be a nerve-racking experience no matter if it's your first home or 10th home. These tips from the Energy Education Council and SafeElectricity.org can help home buyers evaluate home safety features and - hopefully - reduce some of the stress that is a part of the home selection process.

“When people look into buying a home, they oftentimes will list out their needs and wants,” says Mike Ashenfelter, Safe Electricity Advisory Board member. “While looking at the physical features, number of bedrooms, and size of a potential home to fit your needs, it is also important to take note of home safety features.”

Many homes sold every year have already been lived in and have the natural wear and tear of age and use. In 2016 alone, the National Association of Realtors says approximately 5,450,000 existing homes were sold, while the U.S. Census Bureau says 563,000 newly constructed homes were sold.

SafeElectricity.org offers this checklist for buyers touring what may become their next home:

  • Outlets. Note the location and the number of outlets in each room. If the outlets only have two prongs and are missing the third hole for the grounding pin, the home is not grounded. You will want to consider having the electrical system updated.
  • Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). GFCIs provide protection against shock from an electrified appliance in contact with water. It is important that GFCI outlets are installed in areas where water and electricity may meet. This would include bathrooms, kitchens, garages, basements, outdoors, etc. If GFCIs are not in the home, you will want to plan on having them installed for your safety.
  • Lighting. Flip on lights, and listen for any popping or sizzling sounds. If there are, there may be an electrical issue.
  • Appliances. Check the age and status of appliances that will come with the house. This could include: furnace, HVAC, water heater, refrigerator, oven, etc. Will these appliances need to be replaced in the near future? Are they working properly?
  • Faucets. Turn on faucets to make sure they are running and draining properly, and that there are no leaks.
  • Sump pump/drainage. If the home has a basement, check for a sump pump and drainage. A basement, crawl space or foundation susceptible to flooding can be dangerous and costly.
  • Insulation. Check to see if the home is properly insulated. Insulated areas should include attics, ducts, crawlspace walls, and floors or walls that are adjacent to unheated spaces.
  • Roof. Note the condition and the age of the roof, and the material it is made of. An old or damaged roof may leak and cause damage to the structure of the home.
  • Smoke and CO Detectors. Learn if smoke detectors are placed and working throughout the home. If the home has gas appliances, check for carbon monoxide detectors also.

“Although it is important to be aware of potential hazards in a home as a buyer, you likely won’t be able to check every detail of the home yourself," says Ashenfelter. "It’s best to hire a home inspector to take a look at your potential new home before signing the final paperwork."

A home inspector will examine all parts of the home and provide you with a full report. If you discover anything is wrong with the house, you can choose to negotiate with the seller to fix the issues, fix the problems yourself after purchase, or check the property off of your wish list.

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