What to Look For When Buying a Home: The Kitchen Checklist

Keep a Kitchen Evaluation Checklist

What’s the best way to evaluate a kitchen?

“A great kitchen will sell a home.”
Real estate mantra

As the emotional center of many homes, the kitchen can either be a deal-maker or deal-breaker. That goes for resale as well, so it’s an extremely important room to carefully evaluate.

Whether you’re a novice house hunter or a repeat buyer, it’s essential to know how to assess a home’s kitchen. In our latest Q-and-A post, Veterans United Realty blogger Jessi Hall simplifies the process for us, and even provides a printable Kitchen Checklist for buyers.

Chris: How can buyers properly evaluate a kitchen?

Jessi: House hunters will each have their own way of appraising a kitchen. But whether you’re an impulse buyer or a “check-under-the-hood” shopper, every consumer needs to evaluate a kitchen based on at least these two factors: design and function.

Everyone has their own design preferences, so there’s no “one size fits all” evaluation. Ask yourself if you can live with the style and color of the kitchen features, or if an immediate upgrade will be necessary. Take that cost into consideration when making an offer.

Functionality should be revealed in the seller’s disclosure statement. This itemized statement asks a seller to note any deficiencies or malfunctions with major kitchen appliances and other features. But it’s extremely important that buyers also conduct their own research, particularly if an offer will be made.

Chris: So how should buyers evaluate appliances?

Jessi: Any appliance malfunctions should be listed in the disclosure statement, but if you’re a picky shopper, conduct your own assessment. Open the fridge and freezer to ensure they’re at least keeping the food cold. Are all burners present on the stove? Do the oven and dishwasher look like they’ve been used recently? If you note any problems, have your agent contact the seller’s agent for more information.

Chris: What about countertops?

Jessi: Countertops can be pricey to replace, so it’s important to determine any faults before purchasing. Are there any broken or chipped tiles? Has the granite been properly sealed and cared for? Is the laminate countertop in good condition and free of scratches or stains?

Chris: How can buyers evaluate kitchen flooring?

Jessi: Flooring undergoes a lot of wear and tear. Some materials will stand up to that abuse better than others. Wood flooring is beautiful, but may need to be refinished if heavily scratched.

Tile can withstand heavy foot traffic, but may break if improperly installed. Check for loose tiles or cracking, which could be a sign of faulty installation.

Some types of vinyl flooring are more durable than others. Vinyl that is scratched or stained may need to be immediately replaced.

Chris: What should buyers know about kitchen cabinetry?

Kitchen cabinets

New hardware or paint can freshen dated kitchen cabinets.

Jessi: First, try to determine the material used in cabinet construction. Solid wood cabinets are extremely durable, and offer the perfect surface for refinishing or painting. Melamine and thermofoil are less expensive and slightly less resilient synthetic materials. Cabinets constructed from man-made materials may not hold up as well to water damage or day-to-day use, so they probably won’t last as long as solid wood cabinets.

Next, examine the doors, drawers and hardware. Make sure the drawers pull well and that all knobs and handles are properly attached.

If you don’t like the look of the current cabinets, consider low-cost upgrades. Would new hardware or a fresh coat of paint bring the cabinets up to your standards? It’s expensive to replace all cabinetry, so ask yourself if a cheaper fix would suffice.

Chris: Should buyers watch for any electrical or plumbing issues?

Jessi: The appraiser and inspector should do a thorough check of electrical systems, but sometimes individual outlets can be missed. Bring along a plug-in device to test any electrical outlets that may have been passed over. It’s extremely annoying to move into a new kitchen to find that only half of your electrical outlets are functioning.

Plumbing should also be reviewed by the appraiser and inspector. Serious buyers should quickly flip on the faucet to assess water pressure. Water pressure can vary from home to home, and low water pressure can be very frustrating to some buyers.

Chris: Any last words of advice?

Jessi: Make sure to take good notes during your house hunt. It can be difficult to remember the details of each kitchen toured, so keep a written list or take notes on your phone. You can also use our Kitchen Checklist to keep accurate details for each home.

Photos courtesy of sonjalovas and ewen and donabel