You will probably only spend about 15-20 minutes in a home during a showing before making an offer. It is very little time to make such a huge decision.

I wish the system were different. I wish you could spend hours experiencing a home before committing.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way, especially in Chittenden County where even second showings are becoming increasingly rare due to the fast pace of the market.

It is absolutely critical that you spend the little time you do have in a home evaluating the things that are most important.

Surprisingly, many people walk into homes unprepared waiting for a “feeling” to strike them to let them know that this is the right choice.

While I am certainly an advocate of trusting one’s gut, I do think taking a slightly more analytical approach can be beneficial.

There are a lot of factors to evaluate when making this choice so having some sort of checklist to follow can help make sure you’ve examined the home from a variety of angles.

I have put this list of questions to ask yourself as you walk through each prospective home. You may be able to rule out certain homes right off the bat, but if you become more serious, going through this list during your visit may help prevent you from missing something critical.

Not every question may be pertinent in your case (and you may have other questions you want to ask pertinent to your particular search), but hopefully this guide will provide you with a basic framework that will help you as you make such a major decision.

Layout

Is the layout of this space logical and will it work with my lifestyle?

Do I have a use for every room?

Are there rooms I was hoping to have (e.g. an office or guest room) that would be missing in this home?

Will my furniture fit in this house?

Will I have enough closet/storage space?

Would this home’s layout work for entertaining?

Is the laundry in an adequate location?

Will I have enough space to store kitchen items?

Is there a place to put my winter boots and coats?

What direction are the windows facing? What natural light will come into the house at various times of day?

How is the interior lighting?

What views will I be staring out at every day?

What will it be like to cook in this kitchen?

What appliances come with the house?

Does the house have enough living space for me overall? If not, is there room to expand?

Will this house work me now and in the future when my needs may change due to changes in family size, lifestyle, or the need for a more accessible space?

Outdoor Space

Where will I park my car? Where will my guests park?

Is there a spot for outdoor seating (deck, patio, etc.)?

Are the electrical outlets and water spigots on the outside of the home?

Is there a shed?

What maintenance will be required to take care of the lawn and gardens?

What snow shoveling/plowing will be necessary?

Am I happy with the landscaping?

Are there areas that might be challenging to access or maintain in the winter (e.g. a steep driveway).

Is the yard sufficient to my needs and support my hobbies?

Is the home located on a public or private road? Who is responsible for maintaining the road?

Neighborhood

Do I like the feel of the neighborhood?

What school district is the house in?

Are the schools accessible by foot or by bus?

Are there walking trails nearby?

Are there any stores I can walk to?

Am I on the flight path or near any train tracks?

How busy is this street?

Is there a sidewalk?

How far is this home from my work and other locations I like to visit?

Are there any HOA fees and/or covenants that restrict the use of properties in this neighborhood?

Is this house the best house, worst house, or somewhere in between compared to other houses on the block and in the neighborhood?

Would I feel safe here at all hours of the day?

Condition and Critical Systems

When was this house built?

Are there any strange smells?

What kind of heat does this house have?

Is the home on municipal water or well?

Is it on a septic system or public sewer?

How old is the roof?

What kind of siding does this house have and what maintenance is required?

What are the utility costs?

What is the age and condition of the windows?

What is the age and condition of the mechanical systems?

Does this home have a cooling system, and if not, how will you keep the home comfortable on hot summer days?

Is there anything alarming about the seller disclosure (water in basement, history of mold, structural problems, etc.)?

Are there signs of do-it-yourself work on the house?

Are there signs of structural issues such as cracking in the foundation or uneven walls?

Are there any updates required to make it a comfortable place to live?

Other

How expensive are the taxes and what am I getting in return for being a resident of this town or city?

Is high speed internet available at this address, and what companies offer service here?

Are there any items that might increase my insurance premium (in-ground pool, wood-burning stoves, high balconies, etc.)?


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Pallas Ziporyn is a Realtor based in Burlington, VT. She is the founder and head writer for The Vermont Real Estate Blog, and she works with both buyers and sellers in Chittenden County and surrounding areas.

In addition to her real estate pursuits, Pallas enjoys serving on the Winooski Planning Commission, skiing, writing, and spending time with her husband Chris and their two small children, Leander and Hugo.