2021 has been a difficult time for homebuyers as they face the enduring seller’s market. The steep competition across many markets, housing shortages across the nation, and the sluggish recovery of the construction industry have made finding affordable housing for many homebuyers quite daunting. Nonetheless, many homebuyers decide to pursue homeownership, take advantage of low-interest rates and the shifts that the pandemic has brought to many people’s work-life balance.
Some homebuyers are still bullish and are actively hunting to secure a home for their families. In contrast, others have taken a step back and are waiting for a better opportunity to arise on the market settles down a bit. Whichever group you may fall into, you prepare to make the most showings you attend of potential homes whenever you get a chance. Showing up to viewings with a game plan and better expectations of what to look for can help homebuyers make better-informed decisions about the potential homes.
Viewing the Home Like an Inspector
During an inspection, home inspectors evaluate the condition of the various structural components and systems within a home. Inspectors determine the functionality and expected lifespan of these different components and, most importantly, report any health or safety issues present in the house. Some defects they come across may impact the home’s visual appeal: such as a leaking roof that has seeped into a ceiling.
While the moisture damage and cracked paint may look unsightly, the inspector is more concerned with the harmful moisture intrusion and potential mold growth, which have more significant health and structural concerns. As a homebuyer, you likely do not have the vast technical knowledge nor the proper equipment to analyze the home in the same manner as a professional home inspector. However, homebuyers can bring the same perspective of looking past the initial physical appeal of the house and hone into the more essential aspects of the home that better determines its actual value.
Good Bones vs. Appealing Cosmetics
To effectively apply this approach when viewing potential homes, homebuyers can identify the various features of the house into two categories: the “bones’ of the home and the cosmetic furnishing and style of the home. The “bones” of the home are essentially the construction of the house: foundation, roof, plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems. When people refer to a home as having “good bones,” they are referring to its sound build and solid quality. You will want to hire a professional inspector for a complete evaluation of these components, but you can still identify some signs about their condition.
On the other hand, the cosmetics make the house a place you want to live in: the flooring, cabinets, rugs, furniture, décor, etc. As a homebuyer, it is easy to get excited about these aspects of the home and helps you imagine what your life in your new home could be. Still, it is crucial not to get too caught up in cosmetics. As a rule of thumb, consider when viewing a home is to focus on the bones of the house and not the cosmetics, ensuring that you weigh the “bones” of the home more heavily in your mind when determining whether or not to pursue the home further.
Why Focus on the “Bones”
The “bones” of the house, or its construction, are what you are investing your money in, and you will want these components to be in good condition. If these components, such as the roof or foundation, need to be replaced or fixed since they are no longer in working order, they are some of the most expensive and invasive endeavors for home maintenance. On the other hand, home cosmetics are often more accessible projects and relatively less costly to complete, such as updating the kitchen cabinets, getting new floors, and furnishing or decorating the different spaces. Having good bones will allow you to spend more of your maintenance budget on redoing your home’s cosmetics, further customizing your home precisely to your liking. It is crucial to have a long-term perspective in that style trends will come and go, but good bones will always be desirable no matter who you dress them up.
Using this approach will help homebuyers stay grounded as they attend different showings. In today's feverish market, many have to waive their protective contingencies to get their offers through quicker. However, suppose you can hire a home inspector. In that case, their inspection report will provide you more conclusive information about the home's condition so that homebuyers can make sound decisions about their potential home.