Think Outside the Box: Exterior Considerations When House Hunting

Most home buyers focus on what’s on the inside of a house, but neglecting the outside could cost you.

It’s easy to get tunnel vision while house hunting. When you fall hard and fast for a house, you may be willing to do just about anything to make it your own. But even if you’ve found what seems to be your dream home, take a closer look outside before you make an offer. Any home you consider calling yours should go through a thorough exterior inspection.

Read on to learn what outdoor considerations you should keep in mind while home shopping.

Trees and foliage

Susan Krus of Texas Realty One suggests evaluating trees and foliage first. How close are trees to the foundation of the home? When trees get too big, they can cause foundation problems. And if a mature tree is removed, the foundation can drop when the roots decay.

“It may be worth calling in a foundation expert during the inspection period,” Krus says. If you’re unsure of whether or not the trees are healthy, get a professional arborist to evaluate them.

It’s also not uncommon for mature trees’ limbs to extend over a house. If this is the case with your potential property, check to see if the roof shingles are damaged. Squirrels, possums, and rodents love to use branches to access homes. “They can find a small opening in the soffit or fascia and set up residency in your attic,” says Krus.

It may also be worth asking the seller to prune foliage away from the house. If your potential home has bushes in direct contact with the house, you may have termites or carpenter ants hiding. Krus advises getting a termite or wood-destroying insect (WDI) inspection and treatment as well.


Cracked concrete may seem minor, but “cracks allow moisture penetration and deterioration of the concrete, especially in areas that [freeze in winter],” Krus warns. “I would have a contractor estimate the cost of repair, and consider that in your negotiation.”

In areas that are subject to foundation issues, Krus suggests potential buyers consider the soil grade against the house. “Make sure that the foundation is exposed by about two inches and that there is a slope away from house, so that water doesn’t pool against the foundation,” she says.


Krus offers the following must-ask questions if the home you’re interested in has a pool:

  • What is the age of the liner or gunite?
  • Has it been resurfaced?
  • What is the age of the equipment?

She recommends having a proper inspection done by a pool company.

Find an issue?

Just because you may have discovered an issue or two with the exterior grounds of your potential house doesn’t mean your dream home is gone forever.

Once inspection reports are completed, make a list of the issues found in your landscape inspection and request that the sellers complete the repairs, or offer compensation to have them done after purchasing the property.

Or pass with flying colors?

Even if your landscaping inspection report shows zero issues, keep in mind future maintenance care for the exterior of your home.

  • Keep foliage pruned, and monitor insects around bushes that come in direct contact with the house.
  • Confirm that you know the exact kind of grass you have, and water accordingly.
  • Regularly check your landscaping irrigation systems and watering timers.
  • Regularly evaluate your landscaping lighting.

Remember, too, that regional considerations vary. If you live in dry, desert areas, considering potential wildfire hazards is a must.

Curb appeal goes beyond a pretty mailbox

Curb appeal isn’t just about updated flower boxes and shutters. Sure, the yard may have a picturesque tree and tire swing fit for a postcard, but what you see isn’t always what you get. Don’t skip out on having expert inspectors assess the exterior areas of your potential home. And if you find something, know that there’s usually a way to negotiate the fixes.

Posted by Sarah Pike on Zillow


One thought on “Think Outside the Box: Exterior Considerations When House Hunting

  1. Pingback: Think Outside the Box: Exterior Considerations When House Hunting | Utah Lending Pro

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