Buying Boston area real estate is an emotional process. Many buyers see a house they fall in love with and decide in their heart and mind that’s the home they want to buy. If you find what appears to be the perfect home for you and your family, it’s a good idea to take a more detailed, in-depth look at the home’s exterior. The old adage, “Don’t judge a book by its cover” doesn’t apply in this case. For homes in the Boston area real estate market, it’s important to give the outside of the home a thorough inspection. By doing so, the “cover” may, indeed, give you a better idea of the entire “book.” Let’s take a look at some of the exterior considerations to keep in mind when looking for a home to buy.
Boston Area Real Estate – Check the Outside
Trees and Foliage
Take a closer look at the trees surrounding or near the home. Pay particular attention to how close the trees are to the home’s foundation. As those trees continue to grow, the roots can expand and cause problems to the foundation. In addition, other areas like concrete or paved walkways and driveways can be affected. Furthermore, if an older tree is removed it could create a void when the roots decay, resulting in a drop in the foundation.
To ensure you can avoid potential problems it may be a good idea to seek the opinion of a foundation expert during the inspection process. Enlist the aid of an experienced tree expert of arborist to evaluate the health of trees that may affect your home.
In addition, those beautiful mature trees may have limbs that extend over the home’s roof. Have the home inspected for any signs of damage to the roof shingles or eaves. Squirrels, possums, and rodents often use tree branches to get into accessible areas of your home. When that happens, they can enter your attic through the smallest of openings in the fascia or soffit. If the home you’re looking to buy has foliage extending over its roof, consider asking the seller to prune the tree limbs. It’s also advisable to inspect the shrubbery that may be in direct contact with the house to make sure it doesn’t contain evidence of termites or carpenter ants that may have gained easy access. Naturally, to be completely sure, it’s always good to have a professional termite or wood-destroying insect inspection and treatment.
The Home’s Foundation
Check the foundation of the home for cracks. Some cracks are to be expected and most will be minor in nature. However, cracks allow moisture in the foundation and can cause deterioration – especially in climates subject to freezing temperatures in the winter.
Experts suggest that if you encounter foundation cracks you should have a contractor inspect them to determine the degree of severity. If you decide to move forward with the home purchase, the cost of the repairs – if necessary – could be a factor in the price negotiation.
Lastly, in areas prone to foundation problems, a potential purchaser should take note of the grade or slope of the soil around and against the house. The foundation should be exposed by a minimum of two inches and it should be sloped away from the house. This ensures that rainwater runs away from the foundation and doesn’t collect or pool against the home.
A Swimming Pool
If the home in the Boston area real estate market you’re interested in has a swimming pool, there are several questions you should ask:
How old is the pool lining?
Has the pool liner been resurfaced?
How old is the pool equipment?
For a more in-depth inspection, contact a professional pool company. While a swimming pool can seem like a wonderful amenity for a home, it can also become an expensive and problematic feature for prospective home owners.
What if You Find a Problem?
If you find an issue or two with the home’s exterior, it doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t buy the house. Compile an analysis of the home’s plusses and minuses. Consider the problems objectively, taking into consideration the cost to remedy them. Then, armed with that information you can either request that the seller make the necessary repairs or use that in the negotiating process. In many cases, the seller may discount the sales price based on the estimated cost of substantiated repairs a buyer may have to make. In addition, some lenders may require certain repairs be made before they provide final approval of the financing.
What if Everything’s Good?
If everything regarding your exterior inspection checks out, you should still keep in mind the future maintenance of the home.
• Continue to keep foliage and tree branches pruned
• Determine what type of grass your yard has and care for it accordingly
• If you have a lawn sprinkler system, check it regularly
• Inspect you landscape lighting
Remember, Curb Appeal is More Than Just the Obvious
Curb appeal is important in evaluating Boston area real estate, but curb appeal is more than just an attractive mailbox or driveway. There are many other components that should be considered and inspected to make sure your prospective home is all you want it to be. Be cautious, inquisitive and have an expert inspect the home. A little knowledge beforehand can save a ton of frustration and expense after the fact.
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