Lets keep it simple. You are thinking of buying a house and you want to know what to look out for, right?! Here are 7 warning signs you should be aware of when looking. Buying a house with one or several of these issues could mean yugeeee financial problems for you.
The first thing to realize is you can’t diagnosis all of these problems on your first visit. If you get an accepted contract, you will have the opportunity to have a professional inspector come and check out the home. Consult with your realtor on how long your “due diligence” period is for. But I’d recommend trying to get this knocked out in the first week so you have time to decide if its all gucci or if you need to negotiate with the sellers.
These are things you should do your due diligence on and make sure you inspector is looking for as well.
- Exterior condition. Start at the roof. Is it old, missing shingles, mossy, or missing granules? A roof should have no more than two layers on it. The more layers you have, the more heat and weight you are carrying and thus a lower life expectancy for the shingles. Second, whats the condition of the windows. Are they single or double pane window? Single pane windows will be less efficient and cost you more money with your heating and cooling bill. If the windows are cracked or have broken seals, you’ll want to get a bid on how much thats going to run you, and trust me, windows can big costly. Next, how is the exterior material? Is it brick, stucco, Hardie board, vinyl or something else? What kind of condition is it in. Lastly, is there any cracking or settling at the foundation. Small cracking is common and in general, if they are less than the diameter of the thin side of a dime (1/8 inch), but large cracks can indicate big problems. Dont catch yourself slipping.
- Appliances and utilities. What is the age of the the HVAC unit? In case you are wondering… That stands for Heating, Cooling, and A/C. And what about the water heater? The average life expectancy for a furnace is 15-30 years. A water heater is expected to last 8-15 years, depending on use. These can be several thousands of dollars to repair or replace.
- Plumbing and electrical. You want to be aware of the type of pipes used in the plumbing. Newer homes will feature PVC, pex, or copper piping. Older homes may still have galvanized or cast iron pipes. The danger here is these rust or corrode from the inside, so you typically wont know theres a problem until theres problem. Crap. Next check the electrical. Is it a circuit breaker or fuse panel? Are the outlets grounded or not? Just because it’s an old house doesn’t mean the plumber and electrical are old, but its something you should inspect.
- Lead Based paint. Yeah just like the ones Tommy Boy used to eat as a kid. Homes built before 1978 should be inspected for lead based paint. This is a hazardous material that can be deadly* for kids. You don’t want your kids to turn out Like Tommy Callahan do you? Save those kids from lead based brunch.
- Termites and pests. Termites eat away at wood. This can compromise the structural integrity of the home. Also look out for any signs of pests or rodents. If you see any evidence of pests, welcome to Utah! Everyone knows someone who sells pests control during the summer, I’m sure we can find someone to help. But make sure you are aware if theres a problem or not.
- Neighborhood. Not everywhere has Mr. Rogers protecting the children’s. Do you know if there are sex offenders, criminals or felons next door? You can search online to discover sex offender and felons near by you… Also look into the ratings of the schools district you are in.
- Location, location, location… The golden rule of real estate. What is around you? Are there railroads or trax nearby, noise or air pollutants, refiners or industrial buildings, or major streets or freeways? These things aren’t completely unavoidable. If you are by a railroad for instance, theoretically it should cost less money to purchase a home with RR nearby, making it more affordable to you. But the principle is to be aware and understand the implications this will have for your property. Consult with your agent to understand more about growth opportunities or neighborhood changes.
These are general rules of thumbs. Finding your dream home can be tough, but buying a house and finding out it’s a nightmare is even worse. Be vigilant. Take the proper steps to make sure you are getting what you expect.
Best of luck!