10 Hidden Problems in a Living Room You Might Not Spot on Video
The living room is one of the most important spaces to scrutinize when you’re house hunting. After all, that’s where you’ll unwind after a long day, share laughs with friends when you host game night, or find solace in a good book, curled up next to the fireplace.
But riddle us this: How can you fully inspect the living room when you’re not even there?
As the COVID-19 pandemic has trudged on, virtual and video home tours have become crucial to home buyers. Technology allows us to feel like we’re actually there. But there are some drawbacks—you won’t notice a bad odor or noisy neighbors through a video screen, for instance. No, to get a complete picture of the space you’re looking to drop a down payment on, you need to rely on your agent to be your eyes, nose, and ears.
To suss out the most info possible about your prospective new home, ask your agent these questions about the living room during your video tour.
1. Does the front door open into the living room?
Upon entering the home, are you immediately in the living room, or is there a foyer that leads the way?
That’s an important question to ask, says Leneiva Head, principal broker/owner of Welcome Home Realty, in Antioch, TN.
For most prospective buyers, foyers are a nice bonus—a place to take off shoes and hang up coats. If there is one, be sure to get a look inside the closet, too.
Also: If you’re looking at a two-story home, where is the staircase?
“This is important because sometimes the staircase greets you at the door, or it’s off to the side of the living room,” Head says. “Depending on the staircase location, the wall space available for furniture placement could be affected.”
2. Where exactly is the living room?
Be sure to have your agent show you exactly where it is in reference to the rest of the house.
“It is very important for your agent to take video walking in and through the living room as if they were living there daily,” says Jennifer Carr, associate broker at Timber and Love Realty, in Boise, ID.
“If there are obstacles such as small doorways or stairs, it could be difficult for some buyers who may have special needs,” she adds. “I can tell you from experience that having even one step down or up to a living area can be a big negative for many buyers of all ages.”
3. What does it look—and sound—like outside the windows
Be sure to have your agent point the camera out each of the windows. Look and listen.
“You may want to ask your agent if there are any intrusive or disruptive sounds while viewing that may have not come through on their end—like traffic noise, dogs barking, or a train horn,” Carr recommends.
4. Is this a formal living room?
You might tour a house with a family room and living room. In a home with both, the family room tends to be a more casual space away from the front entrance where everyone hangs out to watch TV. On the other hand, the living room is traditionally located near the front door and serves as a formal room to welcome guests or entertain.
Wendy Gladson, real estate consultant at Compass, Los Angeles, says to consider how the formal living room will be used.
“Will it be wasted space if it is separated from the rest of the home,” she says, “or can it be reimagined to suit your needs?”
5. What kind of flooring is that?
“Having your agent include video of the flooring in the living room is more important than you would think,” says Carr.
Whether it’s hardwood, laminate, tile, or carpeting, ask what condition it’s in.
“Flooring can be changed, but more importantly, if it’s not in great condition, you can use this in negotiations,” says Carr.
6. How high is the ceiling?
Low ceilings create a cozy feeling, while a higher one creates an illusion of more space and grandeur, Gladson says.
Asking your agent how high the ceiling is important if you want to keep your utility bills lower, as it costs more to heat and cool high-ceilinged rooms. While you’re getting a peek at the ceiling, check out the condition of any wooden beams or planks.
7. Can I get a closer look at the lighting?
Lighting is often an overlooked feature, Gladson says, but you should give it more than a passing glance.
“In many older homes, the lighting may be obsolete and need an upgrade,” she says.
It might get pricey if you have to replace a ceiling fan, sconces, and other attached lighting, or add new lighting. Some older homes don’t have light fixtures or ceiling fans with lights in the living room living. That’s something to keep in mind if you want overhead lighting.
8. Is that a wood-burning fireplace?
“The fireplace is the heart of the living room, an emotional anchor representing warmth and charm,” says Gladson.
It’s not so warm and inviting if it’s crumbling or nonfunctional. Whether the fireplace is gas, gel, pellet, or wood-burning, look closely when your agent zooms in on the structure and mantel.
Ask your agent if it works, and, if it’s wood-burning, when was the last time a chimney sweep serviced the fireplace.
9. How many windows and doors are in the living room?
Natural light is a coveted feature, yet too many windows can affect furniture placement—unless you prefer your furniture away from the walls. Also, take note of the window shapes and sizes.
“Note any unique features like a bay window or window seat, which creates more floor space because of the bump-out, or French doors. Beautiful as they are, if the doors swing inward, they can rob you of valuable floor space,” cautions Head.
10. Can I see a close-up of the finishes?
It’s easy to be distracted by a beautifully staged living room and overlook the finishes. And even if the living room is empty, you might take note of the size and flooring and move on.
However, before your agent leaves the living room, request a closer look.
“Check the quality of the finishes from paint to baseboards and crown moldings, flooring, draperies or window coverings, and custom built-ins,” advises Gladson.
Thanks to realtor.com
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