<b>What to look for when you are house shopping</b>

Hunting for a new home can be overwhelming. Here’s a list of the most important things to watch out for when you are trying to find that perfect house.
Hunting for a new home can be overwhelming. Here’s a list of the most important things to watch out for when you are trying to find that perfect house.

Summer is always the hottest time of the year for home buying, and in a market like this one, you don’t always get to visit a house multiple times before deciding to make an offer. Since houses are selling so quickly, you’ll want to know what to look for on your very first visit. This will help you make sure the home is a good investment and the right choice for you and your family.

Here’s a list of the most important things to watch out for when touring a home:

1. Location and neighborhood: The old mantra of real estate is just as important as ever – location is everything. Do your research on the schools in the area. School districts can make a huge difference in the value of a home, even if you don't plan on sending any kids there. Make sure you also visit the neighborhood at different times during the day and night, stop by during the week and on weekends. You'll want to get a feel for the comfort and safety of the surrounding area.

>>> RELATED: 5 tips for navigating this red-hot housing market

2. Floor plan and layout: The last thing you want to do is buy a house that won't fit your needs and comforts. Know what kind of layout will work best for you. Do you like lots of rooms, or is open-concept more your style? The color of paint on the walls is much less important than how the home is laid out. Look more to the function of the rooms than the style choices the previous owner made. Another thing to think about is the amount of natural light that comes into the home.

3. Structural damages: This is a big one. Water spots or discoloration on the ceilings and walls could be somewhat minor, or they could mean major repair bills down the road. Termites are small creatures that can lead to big structural problems. Cracks and gaps in walls could also point to very serious structural issues. Check the ceiling, exterior walls, and flooring, especially if there's a basement. There's only so much you can observe yourself. Always have a home inspection completed before you close on the home.

>>> RELATED: 5 ways to buy a house with a ridiculously low down payment

4. Roof: Not everyone checks out the roof on a home, but everybody should. Look for holes, curling or buckling shingles, or sagging in the roofing materials. Find out the last time the roof was replaced – anything older than 15 years could be a time bomb. Roof repair is costly, and if neglected, it can lead to huge costs for a homeowner. A new roof could cost upwards of $10,000 (or more), and if the home you're looking at needs a roof now, that might break your home-buying budget.

>>> RELATED: 5 of the biggest mistakes first-time home buyers make

5. Major mechanicals: While it's good to know the refrigerator and oven are up-to-date, the more important appliances like the water heater, furnace, air conditioning unit, and electrical system are critical features to investigate before you buy a home. These can be high-cost items to maintain, repair, or replace, in addition to helping you to feel comfortable in your new home. Check the age and condition of this equipment to the best of your ability, and make sure your home inspection covers these always-important features. If one (or more) doesn't work properly, you'll need to account for the potential repair or replacement in your offer.

All you'll need to do now is find some homes to tour. A great way to get started is to contact your local Coldwell Banker Heritage Realtors. A good, knowledgeable Realtor can help you navigate through this exciting process. Happy house hunting!