Becoming Better Buyers: 82 Questions We Evaluate in Homes We Tour

Becoming Better Buyers: 82 Questions We Evaluate in Homes We Tour

With most appropriately priced homes selling in under a week on market- with some going under contract in as little as one or two days- Buyers need to make critical decisions in a compressed time period. Moreover, since many listing agents restrict the amount of time that a showing appointment can last to as little as 30 minutes per showing, Buyers need to spend their limited time in a home focusing on the big picture- does this home meet their needs, will they be happy here and do they like this home enough to compete aggressively for it. These are huge questions, but they are not the only important questions that need to be answered to inform a go/no-go decision on one of the largest and most consequential purchases a person will ever make in a relatively short period of time. Buyer’s need to know how the home lives and breathes, how it interacts with its environment, whether it appears to have been constructed/updated with care and attention, what the home’s strengths are, what areas of the home may need attention in both the short and the long term, and what untapped opportunities may exist to add function and value to the home over time. This is where an exceptional and experienced Buyer’s agent can fill in the gaps in a Buyer’s knowledge to help them truly evaluate the property in a relatively short amount of time so they can make better decisions.  

This is probably a good place to insert the following critical disclaimer: the best way to get information on property condition is through a property inspection by an accredited home inspector. We never recommend that a Buyer purchase a property without a professional inspection. However, given the inherent time constraints in the process as discussed above, a knowledgeable and experienced Buyer’s agent can be instrumental in helping clients decide which homes to tour and which homes to spend one’s time and money pursuing and inspecting.

So without further ado, here are 82 things that we evaluate for our clients on our joint property tours or when previewing properties on their behalf. While our observations are informed by evaluating thousands of homes and attending several hundred property inspections in our career they are still just observations to educate and inform our clients- they are never a substitute for a professional inspection.


Exterior Considerations

Water Management

  • Lot topography and grading- How will water likely flow on the property? Is the grading around the home positive, neutral or negative? Is the yard flat or sloping? Are there any low spots where water could pool or run to?
  • Are there any exterior water mitigation or diversion tools in place, such as landscaping swales, french drains, or other drainage systems that indicate that work has been done to either prevent future issues or address prior issues? 
  • What is the condition of any retaining walls? Are they leaning, bowing, cracking? Do they have proper drainage?
  • Gutters and downspouts- Do the gutters appear to be in good condition? Are downspouts routed to discharge at least 4-6 feet away (10 ft is optimal) from the foundation?
  • What is the condition of walkways, driveways and other hardscaping? Surface cracks can allow water penetration which can worsen cracking with future freeze/thaw cycles


  • Are there large trees on the property? If so, do they appear healthy?
  • Are there trees planted near the foundation of the home? If so, root intrusion into the foundation could be an issue over time so further evaluation may be necessary
  • Are there tree limbs touching/rubbing the roof which could cause accelerated wear and tear on the roof?
  • Are there large limbs overhanging the roof that either need to be removed or could require monitoring over time?
  • What types of trees are on the property? Are they evergreen for year round privacy/shade or are they deciduous trees that will grow and shed leaves seasonally which will alter how light levels, shade, privacy and even sound dampening impact the property throughout the year

Exterior Building Envelope

  • What materials are being used on the exterior of the home?
  • Is exterior siding wood, aluminum, potentially asbestos shingle, composite? Each system has different lifespans and maintenance requirements. Do those materials appear to be in good condition?
  • What is the exterior building trim made out of? Is it wood? If so, are there signs of wood rot or other signs of disrepair? Is the wood trim around the windows wrapped in aluminum to reduce maintenance or is it something that will need to be painted and maintained over time
  • What is the roof material and what condition does it appear to be in? Slate, traditional shingle, architectural shingle, metal for a sloped roof or modified bitumen, TPO, EPDM for a flat roof. Different roofing materials have different lifespans and maintenance requirements. Sometimes this information is provided in disclosure packages but there are many situations where the Seller either does not know this information, is exempt from disclosure requirements or can simply elect not to disclose this information. 
  • If the home is brick, does it appear to be in good condition or are there areas of significant mortar deterioration, cracking or indications of settlement?
  • Are there chimneys present? If so, what is their condition? Do they appear to have chimney caps in place?
  • Are there decks attached to the property? What materials are they made of and what condition do they appear to be in?
  • Are there areas of the exterior like roofing, siding or brick that appear to have algae build up? These are typically found in areas that don’t receive direct sunlight or get more exposure to water/humidity. While this is usually relatively easy to address, algae and moss on roofing materials can negatively affect their lifespan and performance so it is good to be aware of areas of a home that may need to be monitored for their presence.
  • Are there vines growing on brick or other surfaces? While some people like the charm of climbing vines, they can do damage to exterior materials so it is important to either remove or monitor climbing vines on a property.

Interior Considerations


  • What type of flooring is in the home? Real hardwoods, engineered wood planks, luxury vinyl, tile, carpet, cork, laminate?
  • If there are hardwoods, are there any clear signs that they cannot be refinished (i.e. exposed tongue and groove joints, exposed nail heads, pet stains, water damage, etc.)?
  • If there is carpet in the home, does it appear to have hardwood or plywood underneath it? 
  • Are there gaps in the wood floors in certain areas they may be indicative of settlement over time or poor installation?
  • Do the floors slope to one side or dip towards the middle of rooms?
  • Do the floors feel solid when you walk on them or do they feel spongy or springy indicating a potential issue with the subfloor?
  • Are there signs of potential moisture issues with the flooring or prior leaks (i.e cupping, buckling or discoloration of the flooring)?
  • For tile flooring, are there cracks in the grouting, damaged/cracked tile, displacement of tiles?


  • Can we determine the age of the windows from the type of window application (weight pockets, single-pane with or without storm windows, dual pane new construction or replacement windows) or from date stamps on the glass, spacers or jambs?
  • What material is the window sash made from (steel, aluminum, wood, clad wood, vinyl, fiberglass/composite)? Different materials have different life spans, performance and maintenance requirements.
  • What types of windows are in the home (Double Hung, Single Hung, Casements, Gliders, Awnings, Picture Windows, etc)?
  • How do the windows function? Tilt to Wash? Full or half screens?
  • Do the windows appear to move, lock/latch and seal properly?
  • Are there signs of clouding or moisture between the panes of dual pane windows that indicate that the seals may have failed on certain windows?
  • Are there opportunities to add windows? Determining the interior and exterior wall construction will indicate how complicated/costly adding windows could be?


  • What are the exterior doors made of (steel, fiberglass, wood, clad-wood)?
  • Do the exterior doors appear to operate properly?
  • Do they appear to have proper weatherstripping and functional locking mechanisms?
  • Do interior doors feel solid or are they cheaper hollow core doors?
  • Do the interior doors rub or stick or do they operate properly?
  • Do the doors have quality hardware and hinges?
  • Are door frames square or are there indications of settlement over time?


  • Are there cracks, peeling paint or staining on walls or ceilings that may indicate current or past issues that need to be further examined
  • Do the walls show signs of prior repairs?


  • Can we determine the age of current renovations? Knowing which design features and materials were in style in different eras can help determine when renovations were made
  • Sourcing dates of appliances and knowing their average life spans and costs can help establish remaining life and estimated replacement costs
  • What types of cabinets are present? Are they real wood? 36” or 42” top cabinets? Soft close? Any additional features or modifications for added functionality? Cabinet quality and cost varies tremendously and knowing what your options are (replace, reface or refresh) based on the existing cabinet quality/style can help Buyer’s determine how long a kitchen may meet their needs
  • How adequate is the pantry/food storage space for the size of the home?
  • Are there ways to improve the functionality of the kitchen by reconfiguring the space?


  • How strong is the water pressure?
  • Are drains slow to clear?
  • Are there signs of current or prior bath leaks?
  • Are exhaust fans present in full baths? 
  • What is the quality and condition of the vanities?
  • What is the quality of the bath fixtures? Are they bargain basement, builder grade or high end?
  • What kind of toilets are installed? Whether it is a Glacier Bay toilet (low end) or Toto (high end) tells you a lot about the likely quality of the materials used throughout.
  • What is the quality of the tile work? 
  • What type of shower enclosures are there? Frameless Glass, Framed, Gliding, or gold old fashioned tension rod and curtain
  • Are there opportunities to expand or add bathrooms if desired?


  • What is the existing ceiling height in the basement and how functional is the space?
  • Are there any signs of moisture issues (efflorescence on foundation walls, signs of organic growth, discoloration of drywall or baseboards, musty smells)?
  • Is there a sump pump or any other water mitigation systems present? 
  • Is the basement completely below grade?
  • Are there window wells? 
  • Are there legal egress windows or exterior entrances?
  • Are there exposed floor joists in the basement ceiling that may give us clues as to which walls are more likely to be structural in the home?
  • Can we see any plumbing pipes to better get a sense of materials used (copper, PVC, galvanized steel)? 


  • How many bedrooms per floor?
  • What are the sizes of the rooms and how functional are their layouts?
  • How many have en-suite bath?
  • How well matched is the closet space for the size and proposed function of the room?
  • How is each bedroom oriented and what are the light levels in each room?
  • Is there any road noise present in the various rooms?
  • How is the bedroom level heated and cooled? Where are the registers located in the room? Are their ceiling fans? Homes without multiple zones and registers only in the floor can have trouble cooling during the hottest summer months so being aware of how the home is designed is important to understand.


  • Is there an attic in the home?
  • If so, is it accessible (pulldown stairs or ceiling hatch in a room/hallway/closet)?
  • Is there insulation present in the attic? What kind? (spray foam, fiberglass (rolled or blown in, etc.)
  • Is there additional storage space?
  • Is the attic vented?
  • Are there mechanical systems in the attic? If so, are they accessible?


  • Can we identify the age of HVAC systems? Knowledge of the pros and cons of various systems - furnaces, air conditioners (standard and high velocity), boilers, split systems, etc - as well as their average lifespans and costs to replace is important information to have when evaluating properties.
  • Is there information on any of the systems that shows how often or by whom they have been maintained?

Potentially Hazardous Materials

  •  As Buyer’s agents we regularly come across homes that contain building materials that are no longer considered safe to be present in a home depending on their prevalence, location, condition and/or certain health conditions of the prospective homebuyers. These include but are not limited to lead paint, asbestos, radon gas, organic growth/mold. Having a baseline understanding of these materials and, more importantly, relationships with licensed professionals that can identify, evaluate, test and remediate them is critical to identifying and understanding risks that a home may pose prior to going under contract for it. 


Making Better Decisions

Once we gather as much of the information above as possible and verify it to the best of our ability through a property inspection with a licensed property inspector, then we can help our clients answer the following: 

  1. How much money will this home cost to maintain and/or improve to our wants/needs in the short, medium and long term?
  2. How does all of this knowledge impact our assessment of the property’s value to us?
  3. How do these findings compare with comparable properties that are actively on the market, those that are currently under contract and those that have sold so we can determine the relative value of this property?

The answers to these questions make our clients more informed buyers which greatly reduces potential buyer’s remorse. These answers also become the foundation that we build an effective offer strategy upon…more on that to come! 

Work With Us

We have built our practice as a family business. We have deep subject matter expertise and provide our clients with exceptional service, individualized attention, and a commitment to being your trusted real estate advisors for life.

Follow Us on Instagram