Every home will have problems. Whether it’s something aesthetic like terrible shag carpeting or a structural issue like a falling-down deck, you will spot most of the problems before you call in a home inspector to give it a once over.
However, there are lots of things that a home inspector could miss, and the home owner may not be totally honest about, that you need to look for when you buy a home. Here are 5 common problems to look for when buying a new house that can save you time and money to find out before you make an offer.
A weak base
As you walk through the house, take a look for cracks in the walls, especially around portals like windows and doors. These can be signs that the foundation is shifting, making the home a dicey proposition. Even when it’s covered with paint, you can look for crooked paint lines or jagged edges. These often indicate that the house is resettling and moving, a major issue for a home you want to move into.
While you’re inspecting the yard, look for a pipe coming out of the ground called a fill pipe. If you are looking at a house made around 1975 or before, you can assume that it was heated with oil. To save space and keep ugly tanks out of their yard, home builders would often bury the oil tanks used to heat the home in the backyard. These can sometimes leak in the backyard, saturating your soil with oil and ruining your grass. Look for the fill pipe and ask the current owner if the home was ever heated by oil.
Find water stains if they’re there. If you see cracks in the walls coming from a picture frame, ask them to move it. Often times boxes and furniture is arranged to cover water damage from leaks, especially in the basement. Look for moldy smells and water spots to determine if your basement is leaking. If so, make sure that it’s noted in the price when you offer.
Hot (and Cold) Spots
If it’s summer and a bathroom is boiling hot, or winter and the bedroom seems colder than the rest of the house, ask the current owner about renovations that they may have made. It’s pretty likely that they have added on to the home, and the insulation work wasn’t done correctly. Always check on these, and find out if the work was done without a permit. If that’s the case, you may not have to pay for the extra square footage.
The Funny Farm Effect
The movie Funny Farm really showed this well, but people try to hide the problems in their neighborhood when showing a house. They’ll ask neighbors to keep their barking dogs inside, or take in their trash, or cover up the junk cars in the driveway.
Make sure that you take a good look at the neighbors before you make an offer. If you see a doghouse, or a drum set in the garage, ask around. See if any curious neighbors have come to the open house to see their neighbors’ house, ask questions. If a neighbor has an unkempt lawn and an oddly shaped lump in the driveway under a tarp, investigate a little.
Mortgage rates are at historic lows, right now. This is the most opportune time for you to get a buy a new home. Take advantage of lower mortgage rates to save money.
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