For most buyers today, the purchase of a home is likely to represent the single largest financial decision they will make in their lifetime. With so much at stake, it is no wonder that buyers often worry about choosing a home that has hidden defects or issues that will cost thousands of dollars to repair.
Thankfully, there are some steps buyers can take during the home's showing to help protect themselves from purchasing a "money pit" home.
Get the Most From the Viewing Process
The first step in avoiding homes that have significant issues begins when you work with your real estate professional to arrange viewings of the homes you are interested in. Instead of trying to fit them all in one day, decide to limit each day's viewing roster. This will allow you to take plenty of time to look each one over carefully, inside and out.
It is also helpful to carry a notepad and pen for making notes as you examine each home, or use the voice note function on your phone to record specific details that you want to remember. If the seller has no objections, you can also use your phone to capture images of specific details or issues you find in the home during the showing.
Watch for These Conditions at Each Showing
Even though most homes are prepped carefully when placed on the market, it is often possible to still see condition clues that could indicate potential problems. Some of these clues include:
- Abnormal signs of high humidity, including drip marks on walls and ceilings, fogged up windows, signs of corrosion on vents, wall or floor surfaces that feel damp to the touch and any signs of mold or mildew
- Cracks in walls or ceilings that go beyond superficial stress cracks that sometimes occur from the normal settlement of the home
- Uneven floor surfaces or baseboards that seems to differ in height as they go around the room
- Doors or windows that are very hard to open or close or those that appear to be crooked in their frames
- Cracks in foundation, basement or exterior masonry walls
- Outdated or deteriorated wiring, including improper splices, loose or non-functioning switches, excessive use of extension cords in the home, no GFCI outlets and electrical panels that are outdated or too small
- Areas of erosion or poor drainage around the foundation of the home
- Tree limbs that rub the home or appear to have rubbed the roof or exterior of the home in the past
- Missing or broken shingles or roof lines that appear to be sagging
- Cracked mortar or missing bricks in the chimney
- Odors of sewage in or around the home
Pay Attention to all Disclosure Documents
While most sellers try their best to comply with any current disclosure laws regarding the condition of their homes, the information they provide for buyers can sometimes contain errors or be based on incomplete information obtained from previous owners.
Prospective buyers can minimize the potential damage this type of information can cause by carefully examining disclosure statements and any other pertinent information the sellers provide about the condition of the home or its systems and ask for further documentation, if needed.
In addition, buyers can also contact their local recorder, city clerk or planning and zoning department to obtain any information on file for the home, such as past building permits, tax information and surveys.
Opt for Professional Inspections
Even if you fail to note any troubling condition issues during your the home showing, it is always wise to seek the services of a professional home inspector before completing any home purchase. Your real estate professional can help word any purchase offers you make to be contingent upon the results of the home inspection. This ensures that you retain the option to walk away from any home purchase should the home be found to have serious condition issues that cannot be successfully addressed through negotiation with the seller.
It is important to keep your eyes open when looking at homes. With you, your agent, and inspector looking for potential issues, you can feel much more confident moving forward on a home you'd like to live in.
The Ashton Real Estate Group of RE/MAX Advantage
The #1 Real Estate Team in Tennessee and #2 RE/MAX team in the World!