When buying your first Chicago home, the condition of the home and its construction quality should always be considered! This doesn’t mean you have to avoid fixer-uppers, but there’s a big difference between a home that needs some updating, and a home that has significant repair bills ahead. Here are some features to keep in mind in order to get the best value for the money!
Good bones. This means the home’s foundation, structure, plumbing and electrical system is in good shape. You may not be able to tell all this with your first walk-through, which is why a home inspection is so very important.
Roofing quality. A home that needs roof repair or replacement in the near future could be a bargain to buy, but expensive to fix. A separate inspection by a roofing contractor should be conducted if you, or your home inspector, have any concerns.
Good kitchen layout. Remodeling a kitchen is one of the most expensive home improvement projects you can undertake. If you have to mess with the kitchen plumbing and electric, the cost can soar. It’s also expensive to try and enlarge a too-small kitchen. Look for a layout that has good functionality, allowing easy movement between the refrigerator, sink and stove; these three items should be configured in a “triangle.” It doesn’t have to be perfect, but you should be able to picture the diagonals. Adequate counter space, cupboards and electrical outlets are important too.
200 Amp electric service. It’s easy to take this one for granted, but there are plenty of older Chicago homes that still have 100 Amp service. Households today use a ton of electronics, appliances and gadgets. 100 Amp homes may not have enough juice to handle your needs. Electric service can generally be upgraded to 200 Amp without breaking the bank; call in an electrician before making any assumptions.
Good windows. Windows should be free of cracks, and should open and close smoothly, and lock with ease. Today’s window glass can process UV rays in such a way that they keep your home warmer in the winter, and cooler in the summer, reducing your energy costs. Newer windows are a plus. You shouldn’t automatically rule out a home with old windows – but you may want to budget for upgrading them in the future.
Modern heating and cooling systems. This is another area that can be subjective. An older boiler system can work well for decades, pass the home inspection, then conk out the first winter you’re in the home. So can an energy-efficient furnace that’s only 10 years old. It isn’t always easy to find a home with a practically-new furnace, hot water heater, and new major appliances with energy-star ratings. But when you can, it’s a plus!
If you can’t, have your home inspector give everything a good look-through, and call in a specialist if anything needs a closer look. You can also ask the seller for a home warranty, which could give you some peace of mind for the first year or two of home ownership.
StartingPoint Realty – dedicated to first-time Chicago home buyers!
Need personal assistance? Make an appointment to meet us at our Chicago Resource Center for information without any sales pressure. Always feel welcome to contact us for help with your Chicago home buying questions!
Ryan Gable Broker/CEO Starting Point Realty
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