House hunting in the autumn months has its advantages. Not only is the weather more pleasant for searching, but the cooler weather also means you’ll have less competition at the open houses. And since fall is considered the off-season for real estate, you’re also more likely to be able to get a deal on a house. Plus, with Virginia’s variable weather patterns during the fall, you get a good idea of what each home is like in warm and cool times. This one’s a major bonus because the goal is to find a home that will fit your needs in every season, not just the one you’re currently looking in. However, searching this time of year still doesn’t mean you’ll see everything about a house that you may notice in the winter and summer months.
To help with that, we’ve compiled a list of items to look for to make sure that home that looks absolutely amazing amidst the fall colors continues to be your dream home all year round.
1. Check the air conditioner
You may not pay much attention to the A/C in the fall, but in the summer you’ll be sweating bullets and kicking yourself if you didn’t make sure the home’s A/C is in good shape. An inspector will check to make sure it’s in working order, but why not check for yourself before even wasting the time to put in an offer and go through an inspection? Some of the older homes in our area may not even be equipped with central air at all, so be sure to ask.
Realtor.com recommends checking these items.
- Check to see if the AC’s filter has been recently changed
- Try turning down the thermostat and see if the unit runs
- Make sure air is blowing through all the vents
- Check out the outdoor condenser, listening for any strange sounds, and make sure the condensation line in the evaporator coil—likely found in the furnace—is flowing smoothly.
- Examine the duct work, looking for any rusting or poor fittings.
2. How’s the drainage?
Gutters are something most buyers ask about, but don’t forget the drainage. Look for areas in the yard where water is accumulating. This could indicate a leak in buried pipes or problems with the grading that will need to be addressed prior to the rainy season.
If it looks like the sewer might be clogged, be safe and bring out a professional sewer inspector to do a camera inspection of the line. They can uncover problems that could cause a backup and big problems for you later. It’s better to know these things before you buy.
3. Look for standing water
Similar to number 2, pay close attention to areas of standing water. Mosquitoes may be gone by end of summer, but they’ll be back. You may as well know where they could gather now so that you can prevent them as much as possible.
Don’t linger on items that are movable like trash cans and birdbaths. These things won’t be there when you move in. But if the home is located on a body of water, there’s not much you can do besides mentally prepare yourself to invest in citronella candles and Off! spray come summer.
For most homeowners, living on a lake or pond is well worth it to deal with a few pesky mosquitoes, but it’s a good thing to think about ahead of time regardless.
4. Take note of the surroundings
Don’t get tunnel vision and simply pay attention to the home itself. What’s around? Look behind the house, next door, and across the street. Ask the neighbors about the neighborhood happenings seasonally. Activity may be scarce during the cooler months, but when it warms up there might be loud construction that surrounds you ruining the peaceful neighborhood you used to enjoy.
This is definitely something to consider if the home you’re eyeing in near a large intersection or connected to a major road.
5. Check for slopes
A sloped driveway may be no big deal now, but how will it be when it’s covered in ice in the winter? Now, don’t let this detail completely deter you from buying an otherwise perfect-for-you home, but it’s better to know in advance than during the snowy months when parking will be more challenging.
Also, check the terrain around the home. Are there steep hills that might cause flooding from water runoff? If the home has a basement, make sure to check the land around it. If it slopes towards it, a flood is possible.
6. Window examination
Windows are always shut during the cooler months, but a lot of Virginians look forward to the spring and summer when they can feel the cool breeze and let it some fresh air. If the windows in your potential home are older (or don’t even open), you’ll want to replace them immediately. This is also a risk for wasting energy or breaking them during a freeze, which we’re all too familiar with during Richmond winters.
Check to see if the windows have screens also and ask when they were replaced last. It could be an immediate added expense if it’s been a while.
As Realtors, we’ve seen great things happen in the fall market and see these advantages as a leg up for homebuyers during this time of year, but don’t be fooled by the peaceful weather of autumn and think your potential home is free from issues. Examine everything you can so that you know what to expect in the seasons to come.
Remember, a top agent will assist you in thinking of the unnoticeable. So, be sure you have a great Realtor on your side and also educate yourself as much as possible about what to look for in your new home.