Hunt for your perfect home


Serina Taluja

Houses in the Champaign-Urbana community can be a viable option for college students hoping to branch out. Making sure these homes are in good shape before signing a lease can reduce trouble.

By Molly Zupan, Special Sections Editor

Next semester will have many changes. I will be transitioning from undergraduate to graduate classes, apartment living to home living and from Champaign to Urbana. I have had my fair share of expensive rent prices, listening to people’s footsteps above me and not being able to have a pet. And I’m over it.

I recently found a suitable, welcoming house in Urbana I’m looking forward to calling home.

But it took a lot of work to find it. I am rooming with seven friends and a dog. We started the house search with many opinions, needs and desires. Along with that, it was necessary for us to check off a variety of boxes.

If you are considering adopting the off-campus house lifestyle, be sure to consider the following points to ensure you make the best choice.

So, what are your deal breakers?

Figure out what your most essential requirements are. Consider your lifestyle and your habits, location preference, the environments you have felt most comfortable in and the price you are willing to pay. Let these factors guide your choice. Make a checklist to stay organized, especially if you will have roommates.

Pay attention to detail

When you find a house, don’t let the paint job be the ultimate decision-maker. Take a close look at the insulation, pipes, foundation, window quality and so on. Disappointing conditions can be masked with good decor or amenities. Check for leaks, damage or mold.

Take its temperature

If the house of your liking looks old or rickety, it probably is. Heating and cooling systems are not cheap to repair and replace. Make sure the furnace is in good condition before you solidify any decisions. This is an essential consideration, especially with recent extreme weather trends resulting from climate change.

Get your hands on everything

On the first visit, touch everything. Play with the light switches, the garbage disposal, the doorknobs, the faucets and everything in between. Flush the toilets, taste the water and check the power outlets. Check for accessibility and functionality. Who wants to pay for something they can’t use?

Look for consistency

If you plan on having many roommates, like me, try to find a house with very similar bedrooms to avoid arguments about who gets what room and why. If the bedrooms have similar characteristics, satisfaction among everyone is more likely.

Take a whiff

Do you smell sewage, gas or anything unpleasant? Sewage systems in older homes can sometimes get clogged or damaged. Hire a company to check the pipes through the drain if you are suspicious. Also note any odors from previous tenants or pets.

Talk to current tenants

Any questions you have can likely be answered by the people who already live there. What is the landlord like? Does your room get cold in the winter? Is the stove gas or electric? How much is your average monthly utility bill? What is it like sharing a refrigerator with four people? Ask away.

Hire a professional

If you don’t trust your own judgment, have a home inspection done. Building inspectors know what to look for and what to avoid. Every house is likely to have a defect or two. Some will be obvious to you and they can be fixable, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Awareness of damages can help you negotiate a lower price and can alert you of any necessary repair costs.

Take your time

The house search can be very stressful, but an attentive, thorough search will pay off in the long run. Leases are contracts; you want to be sure of your decision before you provide your signature.

Molly is a junior in FAA.

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