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Nightmare Control: How to Spot Problems during a Walk Through!

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Seemingly small issues at home can, over the long run, negatively effect your mood, health and wellbeing. Whether you’re committing to a 12 month lease or a 25 year mortgage, here are some points you should look out when visiting a home. They take 5 seconds to check off the list and could save you hours of future frustration. Take your time before, during and after the showing and make sure you take note of all these points!

1. Research the surroundings

Have a look at the establishments that line your street and, in the case of condos, the ones directly under or besides you.  Be careful not to think of all amenities as blessings when in fact they could end up being nuisances. For example, if there’s a public pool right under your window, how late do they stay open? What type of clientele visits the bar right under your condo? Does the depanneur or supermarket behind your house receive deliveries at 4 in the morning?

If you’re buying a home, you should be taking your research a step further and looking in detail at the current city offerings in your neighbourhood as well as the city plans for the next couple of years (if available). Nearby parks, canals, schools, and public transportation stops all add to the value of an investment, and big businesses or universities indicate that you’ll be able to rent your home out easily if you don’t plan on living in it yourself. To know more about this point, read our article on “What Makes a Neighbourhood Valuable“.

Check everything on this list:

Don’t be shy to ask the landlord if you can inspect each and every one of these commonly overlooked points:

  1. Stairs: If the condo is on two levels and has stairs, check that they are not dangerously slippery or that they don’t creak too much as you walk up and down them.
  2. Doors: Do all the doors latch? Are they noisy to open and close? Do the locks stick?
  3. Windows: Do the windows open easily?
  4. Water Pressure: Turn on the shower and the faucet- is the water pressure ok? While you’re doing this listen for noisy pipes that rattle or gurgle as the water flows through them.Want the whole scoop on investing? Download our free e-book here.
  5. Drawers and cabinets: Open the drawers and check that they don’t jam. Check that the cabinets at a practical height and that they are spacious enough for all your stuff.
  6. Lights: Turn them on and off to check that they don’t flicker. Check for harsh sources of light outside the bedroom window, such as street lights or neon signs. Does the bedroom have thick enough curtains or blinds to keep the room dark at night?
  7. Heating and cooling: Ask about the central AC or the wall unit. Is it loud? Is the place well heated or cooled during the visit?
  8. Electrical sockets: Check that there enough three-prong sockets in every room. This will prevent you from having to buy extension plugs after you move in.

Speak to the neighbors

Image Credit: Steven Salerno for the NY Times

If possible, get hold of one of the neighbours and ask them about any issues in the building. This could help you find out whether it gets noisy at night, or whether there have been any safety issues in the building. Your broker may also be able to update you on the status quo of the building, since chances are he or she has worked with other landlords or tenants in the condo project.

If you’re buying a condo, ask for the condo meeting minutes. This will give you a detailed account of all the things that have grinded your neighbours’ gears over the past 1-3 years. If you’re working with a broker, he or she will read the condo minutes to make sure you avoid any unpleasant surprises!

Do you have everything you need?

If you’re renting a fully furnished condo, check that the unit will come stocked with all your day to day necessities, such as cleaning products, spare linens, and a full set of kitchenware.

For semi furnished rentals and homes for sale, check that the property comes with a garage if needed, a locker space or storage space, and all the appliances.


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