Buying a house can be a daunting experience, especially if it’s your first home. You’re getting ready to invest what might be hundreds of thousands of dollars into something you don’t know everything about. Even a seasoned buyer can miss a sign here or there when home shopping, which can result in landing a less-than-stellar deal and the ownership of a money pit. To help you avoid investing in a home that has serious issues, here are some things to look out for when you are shopping for a home.
- The Roof
A house with a roof that may need to be replaced could definitely be a deal breaker. According to the pros at Parsons Roofing, a roofing company in Atlanta, GA, “A roof protects the integrity of your house and your family from outside forces.” Not only that, but a brand-new roof could cost you $10,000 to $30,000. It only makes sense to find out exactly what condition the roof is in before you buy the house. Ask the seller how old the roof is and if the roof has been inspected. Some states require that sellers share the findings of the inspection with the potential buyer, and some people will share the findings anyway. Look around the roof yourself. Look at the gutters and shingles. Do you see rot or missing shingles? What is the overall condition of the roof? Finally, have the roof inspected by a professional yourself, either before you make an offer or during the negotiation phase.
- Located in a Flood Zone
Most people assume if you don’t live by the ocean, lake or river, you aren’t in danger of flooding, but that is just simply not true. Living in a flood zone means your insurance could be very expensive and make your house difficult to sell in the future. Talk to people in the area you are thinking about purchasing a home to find out what the flood history is and which streets tend to flood. Also ask about what precautions they take and preparations they make in the case of a flood.
- Plumbing Issues
The plumbing in your house is crucial to your everyday life. If you see water stains, mildew or sagging floors in the house you’re looking to buy, then that’s obvious proof of water leaks. However, worse and more expensive problems might be with the sewer lines and septic tank. Make sure to have a plumber come and inspect the plumbing, as well as the sewer lines and septic tank, if applicable. Major repairs to sewer lines or a septic tank can be between $25,000-$50,000.
- Electrical Issues
It’s not uncommon to find outdated or inferior electrical work in older homes. But this type of work can cause a lot of big problems, including being a fire hazard. Aluminum wiring or knob- and-tube wiring is what is typically found in older houses. This form of wiring can be both dangerous and pricy to replace. Rewiring the whole house can be between $3000 and $20,000. Get an electrician to do an inspection, although you might have to wait until the contract phase.
- Room Fresheners
It’s important to become a bit of a detective and search for the reason for the room freshener. What smell is being covered up by the room freshener? Is it a septic issue? A pipe that is leaking? Pet urine? Mold?
- Music Playing
When a home owner has music playing in every room, it could be a sneaky way for the home owner to make the noise inside the home louder than the noise outside in hopes the potential buyer won’t notice. Nobody wants to buy a house on a busy street or in a loud location. So, sellers may try to hide the noise with loud fans, music or appliances. If you walk into a house where there is noise, politely ask them to turn it all off. Only then will you be able to get an accurate idea of what the noise level really is.
- Hidden Space
A giant red flag is a space or room which the seller will not grant you access to until you are under contract. This can be a crawl space, attic, basement — or any part of the house. Unless, the seller can give you a highly plausible reason why they won’t show it to you, he is probably hiding something.
- Seller Wants to Skip Inspection
This happens more than you would think, and it should always be a red flag. Oftentimes sellers offer incentives to waive an inspection. However, there is no good reason to skip inspection. It is definitely not in the best interest of the buyer. And really the only reason to forgo the inspection is if there is something big to hide. Make sure you have an inspection contingency, which can serve as your leverage to get out of a deal or broker a lower deal.