Buying a house – particularly if it’s going to be your home – can be an exciting prospect.
But if you don’t curb your enthusiasm with some common sense, you could end up buying a money pit. Watch for these red flags whenever touring a potential new home.
The foundation supports the entire home, so repairing one can cost you tens of thousands of dollars or more. If you are touring the basement, look for large cracks in the walls or floor or bowing walls. Pay attention to floors in the home to see if they are sloped. If you notice door frames or window frames that look skewed or doors or windows that stick open or closed, these can also be signs of a foundation issue.
If there is a pest problem, you will have to invest in extermination to make sure your home is safe. Pests like termites and carpenter ants can also cause serious damage to the home, requiring expensive repairs. Check any wooden support structures you can find for pest damage and if you’re not sure what to look for, be sure to hire a licensed pest inspector.
Older homes often contain asbestos or lead-based paint. Some homes also have a history or high carbon monoxide or radon levels. Make sure you inquire about professional testing for asbestos issues or ask for any existing documentation.
Signs of a coverup
Justifiably so homeowners are looking to present their house for a successful sale. If you see fresh paint on one wall or a fresh patch of drywall, it could indicate that the owners are covering up an issue or recent repair. If the culprit is mould or water stains, look for other indicators like water stains on the floors or odd odours. Be sure to look for locked doors or blocked off areas as well.
Faulty electrical systems
Be sure to ask how old the wiring in the home is. Old electrical panels with fuses and old knob and tube style wiring can be very expensive and invasive to update. Look for flickering or non-functioning lights, rooms that do not have overhead lights wired, and check outlets as well.
Water problems can require extensive repairs and drainage systems and they can even cause foundation issues. This can include old, ineffective gutters, poor grading or drainage systems, or mould issues. Pay attention to musty, foul odours, especially in the basement. Look for stains on walls, warped floors, rust, rotted wood, and visible mould inside. Outside, look for low spots or puddles in the yard, washed-out spots in landscaping, and water stains or disintegration on the foundation.
If you see obviously shoddy workmanship or repairs, that could be a bad sign. If someone has performed amateur repairs to parts of the house like the carpentry, electrical systems, or plumbing, the work may not be up to code. Look for patched drywall, any visible repairs that do not look clean, and missing trim work and when in doubt, ask the owners or realtors.
Failing or ageing heating & cooling systems
Heating & Cooling systems only last so long, so be sure to check these out to see how old they look and try to find out when they were last replaced. Even if you are willing to put in new HVAC systems, you’ll need to extend your budget to do so. You’ll also want to check for adequate ventilation, as reworking or adding this can be costly and may require a lot of renovation.
Major investments needed
If the roofing, siding, or windows are several years old and in need of replacement, that can tack on a lot to your budget. Make a list of any issues like this you find and know what you are willing to tackle and what you are not.
Poor neighbourhood conditions
Have you noticed many vacant homes in the area? Or homes that are in disrepair? This could negatively affect the resale value of your home. Therefore, avoid neighbourhoods that people are constantly moving out of. Look for vibrant neighbourhoods, and try to check on the value of other comparable homes in the neighbourhood.
If you’re serious about buying a home, you want to watch out for any red flags to avoid a bad investment and keep your family safe. This list can be a helpful tool for your next walkthrough. Look for these warning signs and be sure to have a professional home inspection just to be safe.
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