Problems to Watch for When Buying a Home
When you’re walking through a home, the excitability of finding a pretty house can sometimes affect a home buyers ability to properly assess potential problems. Buying a home is a big step. It’s thrilling to find the house you finally love, but it’s equally important to know where to look for just the basic things that may be problematic. A thorough home inspection will usually reveal much more, but when buying a home, there are things you can look for yourself. Here is a general checklist I personally look for when assisting buyers in choosing the right house. Some of these things can effect not only your value but also potential resale value. I have had people say, “but I’m not buying it to sell it. I’m not worried about resale value.” I have to remind them that if they are ever forced to sell the home for any reason, they need to take certain things into consideration now, before buying a home.
- Is the driveway so steep that it may affect resale in the future? Will it scare people if you ever have to sell? Could it scare people enough that you may not get buyers wanting to make offers, thereby resulting in price reductions? Think of whether it matters to you, or if you can overlook it.
- Watch for evidence of problems around the exterior foundation. Look for strange large cracks, or water that pools around the perimeter of the sides of the house. See that gutters are properly installed by looking at this article so you can tell the difference.
- Stand back from the roof and look for evidence of curling or very old shingles.
- Look for rotted wood up around the “overhangs”.
- Pay attention if there are any steep hills on any side of the house that appear to be a good way for water to roll down. If there’s improper drainage, you may get water in a crawlspace or pooling around the house.
- Look around the neighborhood for swamps, high tension powerlines, neighboring eye sores, and the like, that may affect future resale value.
- Inside, look for basement mold hiding behind the owners belongings. If you’re unsure whether mold is hiding behind that large piece of sheetrock leaning against the wall, carefully look behind it. Be extremely careful not to damage anything. If there’s something in the way, carefully move it forward, take your cell phone flashlight and peak behind it, looking for black large spots on the wall at the bottom. Always put it back the way it was. Then wash your hands.
- Are there egress windows at ground level? Feel the wood around the window and make sure it isn’t wet. Sometimes you can visibly see wet wood, and sometimes not.
- Are there multiple dehumidifiers running? Do you see things propped up off the floor on pallets? Do you see water lines around the perimeter? Do you see evidence of warped walls that have been wet? Do you see mops, squeegees and buckets in an area where things are elevated off the floor? Is there a visible trench that runs around the surface of the basement? This could be evidence of past flooding. If you see a sump pump, then someone already addressed the situation in preparation for evading any future issues. The inspector will be able to usually tell of it’s in good working order.
- In the basement, find the electrical panel box and see if it looks like it needs to be updated. By this, I mean to see if it is 100 amps, 200 amps, etc. If you’re looking at a bunch of wires sticking out all over, crossed, or looking confusing, the panel box needs to be assessed and tended to by a licensed electrician immediately. This is likely a fire hazard and will definitely come up on an inspection.
- Look for evidence of shredded wood, tiny holes in wood, or pest damage. Familiarize yourself with what bug damage looks like by spending a few minutes googling “insect damage wood” and clicking on ‘images’ at the top of the Google results.
- Look at the boiler. Does it look newer to you, or old and rusty and corroded? The inspector will give you a better idea of it’s remaining life if it looks old.
- Are there any evidence of leaks around the oil tank?
The interior usually has several things that can only be found by a thorough home inspection. The inspector will typically check for general things such as:
- Appliances in working condition
- Electrical outlets & lighting
- Water pressure and testing
- Evidence of pests
- Central Air conditioning system
- Heating system
- Evidence of leaks
- Evidence of mold in closets
- Entry to attics
- Attics & ventilation
- Wood stoves
- Safety hazards
- Fire hazards
- Health hazards
- And more….
Be sure that when you make an offer on a property, you are aware of the possibility that the seller may not wish to further negotiate after the home inspection, unless there is a major issue. A home inspection is extremely important, but even prior to making an offer, the above list will give you a good basis for checking out general concerns. The presence of any of the issues noted do not mean you shouldn’t buy a particular home. However, you should have the necessary knowledge of potential things that may go wrong in the future, so you’re prepared should any extra costs arise to remedy issues.