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5 House-Hunting Tips You Probably Didn’t Consider

Before selecting which comfy (and stylish) sleeper sofa to put in your common room or what DIY decor will dot your space comes the hard part — actually finding the place. With hundreds of house, condo, and apartment listings to sift through, simply scheduling the tours can be exhausting. And once you consider how many factors there are to take into account when making your decision (it’s not just cost and location), the process goes from tiring to straight-up overwhelming. To ensure your tours are as smooth and effective as possible, we’ve spoken with Cliff Stahl — national vice president of Meritage Homes, one of the largest homebuilders in the US — about the most surprisingly important details to pay attention to and tasks to take care of when hunting for a new home.

1. Check the temperature. If your potential house feels hot and cold, as with most things, that’s not a good sign. Temperatures changes throughout a house usually indicate that it’s poorly insulated. “You might be too hot to sleep upstairs during the summer and too cold to watch TV downstairs in the winter,” Stahl explains. “If the temperature is the same in all directions and between floors, it will be more comfortable year-round.” Plus, the better insulated a home is, the less likely it will be to succumb to the effects of humidity.

2. Listen for outside noise. The sun is shining, the bird are singing — you just don’t want to be able to hear them through closed windows. Pay particular attention to outside noises as you walk around your potential new pad. If nothing is going on outdoors, make some noise yourself. “Blast music, leave it outside, then close the door,” Stahl suggests. “Evaluate how much noise you can hear.” How the noise sounds can clue you into some of unexpected features of the house. “If it feels like you’re in a sound studio, the home has quality framing, insulation, and windows — and is a healthier home in general (especially for those with allergies).”

A woman presses her hands to the glass as she looks out a window

3. Feel the windows. Yes, reach your hand out and touch that window, girl: Its temperature can be a good indicator of its quality. If it feels cool to the touch, this can be understood to mean that the window is less likely to let heat or furniture-fading UV rays in from the outside. According to Stahl, there are two factors to a window: the U-factor, which measures heat transfer, and the reflectance, which determines how many UV rays it lets through. “A cool window is superior in both of these elements,” Stahl asserts. “If the window feels hot, it’s the opposite.”

4. Locate the air conditioning unit. Size, uh, matters — but not in the way you might expect. Stahl says that when it comes to air conditioning, a smaller unit is ideal; a big air conditioner implies worse interior insulation. “A small AC unit says, ‘This is all I need on the hottest day of the year to keep cool,'” Stahl points out. “A large — or multiple — AC units tell you that they house was poorly built, so big AC units were needed to compensate.” When a smaller AC unit can do the same job, it’s a good sign that you won’t be spending an arm and a leg to keep the temperature comfortable year-round.

5. Look for water-saving appliances. You have enough bills as it is, so a way to keep one of them — your water utility — down is by prioritizing water-saving appliances, especially WaterSense ones. WaterSense, a program established by the Environmental Protection Agency, certifies that a product uses 20 percent less water, saves energy, and performs as well as if not better than other comparable models. “WaterSense-certified homes can save a family of four up to $600 a year on their utility bills and save up to 50,000 gallons of water,” says Stahl. We like the sound of that!

How do you hunt for homes? Let us know @BritandCo.

(Photos via Getty)

Annamarie Higley
Annamarie is a Californian who's been plopped in the middle of Missouri for her undergraduate studies in magazine journalism. She's a hiker, an eater, a lover of words. In her opinion, nothing beats a well-made breakfast sammy or a well-crafted sentence.

Ahhh, fall. There are so many things to love about this time of year (give us ALL the sweaters and pumpkin-flavored eats). But, high on the list comes autumn decor candles, throws, textiles — you name it. Of course, buying items and actually adding them to your room are two different things. So we're turning to Instagram for the best styling advice and inspo for the season. Scroll on to see everything you need to get those wheels turning!

@sbkliving: Sometimes, it only takes a chic doormat to transition your front steps for the season. Hello, fall!

@rachelpuccetti: Excuse us while we spend an entire lazy Sunday relaxing in this fall-infused space.

@farmhousetofrills: A monochrome mantel never looked so chic. (That fireplace pumpkin setup is seriously *genius*.)

@faith_hope_home: Greet guests with a fall-themed entrance to set the tone for a day of pumpkin carving or scary movie marathoning.

@simplysoutherncottage: Don't forget about those nooks and crannies! This entryway/mudroom situation is capturing our little harvest-loving hearts.

@6thirtydecor: Speaking of pumpkins, pick up a few extra gourds to pave the way into your cozy autumn abode.

@farmsteadonfirst: That guest bedroom you weren't sure what to do with it? Transform it into a rustic retreat with some fall signage and mustard-yellow and green accents.

@fiddleleafinteriors: We're going to take a second to *swoon* over this adorable kitchen setup. Those farmhouse accents and simple centerpiece setup? We're in love.

@ohmydearblog: Contrary to what you think, florals *aren't* just for spring. Bring them into your abode by selecting buds in moody tones to pay homage to the season.

@simply.mrs.z: Drawn to modern style? Play up the Halloween vibes by picking black, orange and brass accents to rock on places like your bookshelf. (Bonus points for carrying the theme over to your textiles.)

@drivewaytodreams_crystal: We're going to go ahead and give two thumbs up to all of these orange-hued accents. Backdropped with a neutral furnishings and they truly *pop*!

@cripcollectiveig: For those who don't want to go overboard with the "fall stuff" this one will speak to you. Compile a couple of cute throws and a minimalist pumpkin print on your mantle and you're set

@cavcottage: Who said fun pillows were limited to furnishings only? We're ALL about this entry display.

@houseon77th: This daybed setup is a *dream*. But actually, this would be the perfect space to doze off in come the colder days.

@kristenforgione: For a more festive Halloween look, overhaul your living space with a spooky handmade addition like this one. *Googles paper bat DIYs.*