In July, most people (understandably) don’t want to think about snow and cold weather. Sure, there are “Christmas in July” sales and the Hallmark Channel will trot out some of their holiday movies for a midsummer tease, but it’s still fair to consider “winter” to be a curse word this time of year.
Shopping the real estate market is generally easier and more fun in warmer weather too, but obviously a full-time residence in North Idaho needs to be four-season friendly. That’s why buyers should remember to consider the “winter” (swear jar) version of a property.
Research the heating costs
Outside a mortgage, energy costs typically top the list of expenses that impact a buyer’s bottom line when considering a home. You can request a “hi-low” average of a property from the power provider (Avista, Kootenai Electric). It’s not a thorough breakdown, but it will provide a decent roadmap for what is typical energy consumption for a given home.
A home with unusually high energy costs, especially compared to similar sized and aged homes, might be an indication of poor insulation. If you’ve already made an offer and are at the home inspection stage, make sure special attention is paid to how well the home retains heat.
With outdoor temperatures in the 90s, it can seem crazy to focus so much on how well a property stays warm. Walking through a home with full air conditioning provides some answers here — if it’s excessively hot in some rooms with the air conditioning cranking, then the home could have some trouble retaining heat as well.
Older furnaces and water heaters might require replacement, but even the newer ones need regular care. At least at the inspection stage, make sure to see if there’s a record of regular maintenance visits. Get a good assessment of their current state, and make sure to factor in potential service and replacement costs if the units are creeping up in the years or have been ignored by previous occupants.
More things to consider — age of the roof, drafts around windows and doors, and look into higher-efficiency windows if the existing ones appear to be made of plastic kitchen wrap.
It will snow, and
you will shovel
Whether it’s with a shovel or snow blower, you will need to deal with removing the white stuff at some point. In addition to considering the warm-weather maintenance of your outside space, don’t forget about how you’ll deal with the cold weather version. Large driveways can hold multiple cars and your own mini-basketball court, but that’s more space to shovel. Also, driveways on inclines can be especially dangerous when ice strikes. A house with a paved hill for a driveway will make for an excellent sledding space, but it will also make for a treacherous shovel job.
The roads getting to your property are going to get slick too, duh. Most of us Inland Northwest folks like to think we handle winter driving well, but you better be sure you’re OK with driving up that curvy, mountainside dirt road in the middle of a blizzard. It will happen, so maybe save a few hundred bucks for some good snow tires.
For those in-town dwellers, take a look at the street parking situation on a new potential block. Is the road narrow? Are there several cars parked on the street on a regular basis? Imagine that with a foot of snow on the ground and a plow pummelling through and narrowing it even more in the middle of the night. Are there lots of tall trees in the neighborhood and on your property? Those like to fall in heavy snowfall and blizzard situations. Maybe invest in a chainsaw?
OK, so maybe those last few won’t be dealbreakers in most cases, but at least you’ve been properly warned. Now go hop on a jet ski and think warm thoughts. But don’t forget: *Expletive w-word* is coming.
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Let us know about standout neighborhoods and developments to feature in an upcoming Neighborhood of the Week. Contact Tyler Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Real Estate Agents, take advantage of Neighborhood of the Week by sending in your suggestions for featured areas, including sites outside the confines of Coeur d’Alene, Post Falls, Rathdrum and Hayden.