Top 5 Things You Overlook When House Hunting

Photo via Matt Watts, Home Adore

Purchasing a home is one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make. We spend an awful lot of time lining up the right loan, finding the right neighborhood, and choosing the right real estate agent. What often gets lost in the house hunting process, though, are those smaller details that we only seem to notice after we’ve already signed on the dotted line. A beautifully put together home can make us forget a lot – often our budget and our must-haves, but once the shine wears off all those forgotten items eventually come to light.

Avoid the buyer’s remorse and hidden costs of unplanned upgrades – be sure to pay attention to these 5 things you overlook when house hunting:

Recessed Lighting

When touring a home, look up. Are there recessed lights in the ceiling?  For older homes, these weren’t standard. You may wish they were, however, after you settle in to your new home and realize you just can’t see anything! Lighting tricks at open houses can easily distract you from noticing this small detail when touring a home. Upgrading to recessed lighting certainly won’t go unnoticed when it costs you around $200 to install, per light.


Factoring in the monthly costs of your HOAs on top of your mortgage shouldn’t be an afterthought. If you’re only comfortable spending $2,500 a month for housing, but your HOA dues are another $450, you’re going to feel that financial squeeze over time.

Closet Space

When you tour a home, it’s often staged or impeccably clean so it’s easy to overlook whether the current residents had enough closets or storage space for their things. We’re not just talking about that walk-in master closet you’ve been dreaming of, but what about a linen closet in the hall, a coat closet at the entry, even a kitchen pantry for all your odds and ends? Be sure to take stock, not just of the size of closets, but the number of shelves and total number of storage areas.

Double Pane Windows

Does the home have double pane windows? Old, out of date windows lack energy efficiency. That means you’ll be paying more in utility costs to heat the house in winter, and cool it in summer. Those utility costs can be a financial strain; and so can updating all of a home’s windows. The cost of updating to double pane windows is around $400 each – even more if you need to re-side your home in the process. A home that already has these updates might be more practical for you.

Utility Costs

Just like with HOAs, it’s also important to factor in utility costs to your monthly housing budget – but this often gets overlooked. If you’ve found your dream house be sure to ask for utility bills from the seller. This will give you a sense of just how green and energy efficient your potential new home really is.

Checking a few basics like this before you make that offer will help you avoid some major costs and inconveniences with the home you intiailly thought was simply perfect.

Author Bio: Marni Epstein-Mervis is a real estate and architecture journalist whose work has been featured in Curbed, Yahoo, Huffington Post, and ArchDaily. Marni is Editor at Agent Ace, a free service empowering homebuyers and sellers with the tools to identify real estate agents in their area with the most expertise.