Homebuyer Beware: Uncover Hidden Problems Before Buying a Home
When searching for a bigger home, or looking to downsize, it takes diligence to find the right one. Most homebuyers research online and find homes within their price range that possess their prioritized “must have” features. Next, it’s time to tour homes and narrow the prospects in order to land your dream home. Fortunately, most sellers are upfront and honest about the details of their home, but occasionally sellers glaze over hidden flaws that could cost a buyer in the long run.
Home tours that lead to the best home purchases
As a homebuyer, train yourself to tour homes with a pragmatic eye to catch the flaws before potentially purchasing a home. Rather than skimming the surface by noticing the brand of kitchen appliances, or simply counting the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, take time to use all your senses to diligently observe and uncover any hidden problems. Here’s how:
1. Discover if the previous homeowner maintained the home well or not. Neglecting routine home maintenance is a red flag for homebuyers because a poorly maintained home can cost buyers more money in future repairs. Ask questions about routine maintenance; realize regular maintenance prevents future problems.
a. Look for burned-out light bulbs throughout the home.
b. Is the yard maintained well?
c. Do the indoor or outdoor faucets leak?
d. Has the indoor or outdoor paint faded?
e. Was the water heater flushed annually?
f. Are the air filters changed monthly?
g. Has the chimney of a wood-burning fireplace been cleaned?
h. Has the roof been inspected for leaks, and have the leaks been repaired?
i. How does the caulking around windows and doors look?
i. Are they moldy?
ii. Are they disintegrating or no longer intact?
2. If the home is highly scented upon your arrival, ask why? Soothing essential oils are great, and who can resist a hot chocolate chip cookie the sellers just baked? Scented candles are awesome, but if sellers go overkill on artificial smells, the question is why are they using such strong scents? Could there be an offensive odor the seller is trying to mask? Take time to uncover the facts.
a. Are there strong pet odors the seller is trying to cover up?
b. Is there mold or mildew in the home?
c. Does the person who lives in the home smoke cigarettes?
3. Are there foundation problems? Foundation problems are like money pits for potential homebuyers. Sticking doors or windows, visible cracks above window frames, and uneven floors are classic signs there are foundation problems.
a. While touring a home to possibly purchase, check to see if the paint looks uneven around windows or door frames. Double check to verify it’s not hiding jagged cracks in the wall indicating foundation problems.
b. Weak foundations often show up as cabinets and doors that don’t close well.
c. Foundation problems can cause support beams to snap from stress.
d. Although you are buying a home, it’s still important to think of the future. Your resale value can be affected if you have foundation problems, so check carefully for them.
4. How are the neighbors? Your new home should be a refuge, a place to reboot, and a relaxing retreat. Problem neighbors can tend to ruin the atmosphere of a neighborhood.
a. Listen and look as you tour the home. While inside, listen to see how well you are insulated from outside noises such as street or highway noise, stereo noise from neighbors, and even neighborhood barking dogs.
b. While outside the home, listen and make a note of any concerns such as neighbors who may be loud or disruptive.
c. Visit the neighborhood at a time when you aren’t touring the home. Take a walk and get a feel for the residents within the neighborhood. Enjoy some small talk if you meet someone on your walk. You may just uncover something like learning the neighborhood is in a flood zone.
d. Drive through the neighborhood on the weekend, and during the week. Look for any concerns and follow up with your REALTOR®.
5. Does the home have a mold or mildew problem? Check to see if there are small black or gray spots anywhere in the home that indicates mold issues may be present.
a. Check the water pipes and drain areas under the bathroom sink for mold.
b. Check showers and bathroom blinds for mold and mildew.
c. Check the caulking around the bathtub, kitchen sink, and bathroom sink area for mold and mildew.
d. Check the ceiling for signs of mold or mildew.
e. If the refrigerator is staying in the home, check the seals on the doors to see if they are moldy.
6. Has the home suffered water damage?
a. Water damage from an unexpected water heater leak is often covered up by fresh paint or new carpeting.
b. Take a deep breath in each room of the house. If a musty odor is present, it indicates water damage (even if you can’t see standing water anywhere).
c. Check walls and ceilings for water lines.
d. A burst pipe can also cause internal damage to the walls.
e. Check the laundry area of the home for rust, water stains, or leaking.
f. Ask when the homeowner painted last and why.
7. Check the outdoor areas of the property to avoid surprises.
a. Check the roof for leaks, and general wear and tear.
b. Check the siding to verify it is in good condition.
c. What kind of shape is the landscaping in?
8. Solicit the help of your REALTOR®.
a. Ask the agent to help point out any flaws they may see.
b. Ask them to assist you in staying within your pre-planned budget.