Whether you’re buying a home for an investment or to live in for the rest of your life, it’s crucial to buy something that will last. As you walk through open houses and home showings it can be too easy to let your emotions rule: You might love the grand staircase in the entryway or the crown molding throughout the space.
Although such features may help the resale value, you can’t let such details cloud your judgment. Sometimes, the beautiful staircase operates as misdirection from the sloping floor, and the crown molding seeks to mask the cracks in the walls.
At other times, the price might catch your attention. You’ll visit a home in a beautiful neighborhood, and it sports a great price that’s well below market value, and you’ll decide it’s exactly what you’re looking for on your tight budget.
But when a home is priced surprisingly low, there’s probably a reason, and it won’t likely be a good one. Every home will have flaws you can overlook, such as outdated cabinetry or unsightly wallpaper.
But other problems, if you ignore them during the walk-through, may inspire a truly terrible purchasing decision that will cost you thousands in the future. When you go on your next walk-through, watch for these warning signs.
Dampness, Water Stains, and Mold
Most of the time, water damage is easy to spot. Study the walls, ceilings, and exterior siding for yellow stains, watermarks, or damaged paint. If you touch these areas, you might feel the drywall has bloated or it’s not as sturdy as the rest of the wall.
If you see fresh paint over a bulge in the wall, the seller might be attempting to hide a water problem. When you’re in the basement, look for mineral deposits and signs of run-off that signal seepage or a tendency to flood during heavy rains.
Water damage can substantially weaken the structure of a home, even after the leak has been fixed. What’s more, it can cause mold infestation, which could be a hazard to your health.
Sometimes, you won’t be able to see mold because it’s inside the walls, but if there’s been water damage to the house, you should assume there’s mold underneath. If you see visible signs of mold, be very wary about purchasing the structure.
A Damaged Roof
When your eyes are trained on the lovely brick exterior and the gorgeous landscaping of a residence, it’s easy to forget to look up. If you did, you might see missing shingles, sagging or crumbling sections, broken gutters, distressed flashing, and other signs of an aging roof.
A properly installed and well-maintained roof should last more than 30 years, but poor installation, adverse weather, and water damage can significantly shorten its life. Look for the roof’s age on the disclosure and consider paying a roofer to do an inspection.
It might seem like an excessive cost on the front end, but it could save you up to $30,000 for a new roof someday.
Inclement Weather Positioning
Weather is one of homeowners’ biggest enemies. Bad weather can strike at unpredictable times, and if you’re in an area that regularly gets it, you could face a range of hardships that hurt in more ways than just financially.
In the Houston area especially, study the flood zones to assess your chances getting hit. You can plug the home’s address into FEMA’s map database or look at the flood zone maps in the city offices.
Foundation Cracks and Failures
Foundation failures are fairly obvious during a walk-through if you know what to look for. You might see a load-bearing wall that’s sagging, or a bowed foundation in the basement.
You might also catch cracks in load-bearing walls and in the foundation around the exterior. Any crack that’s larger than a quarter of an inch is cause for serious concern. Even if these cracks have been patched and the foundation reinforced, you could still be in for headaches in the future.
If you find no obvious signs of foundation failure, that doesn’t mean you’re necessarily in the clear. One of the best clues is yard grading. If the lawn slopes toward the house, water can run down the foundation and cause damage from pressure buildup.
Foggy, Nonfunctioning, and Old Windows
Homebuyers often neglect to examine the windows, and assume they’re a cosmetic feature. But the windows can be either a huge asset or a drag on your home purchase.
Windows that stick or don’t work can indicate anything from age to rust or water damage. Old windows will likely have to be replaced, and replacement of windows throughout a house can run as high as $10,000.
Don’t forget to inspect window clarity as well. Foggy windows suggest a problem with condensation buildup between the panes, which can cause them to crack. It also indicates they may not be insulating the house effectively, and you’ll have higher energy bills.
Get a Home Inspection
Watch for these warning signs yourself, but you’d be smart to order a home inspection too. Never let a motivated seller or agent talk you out of an inspection. If your real estate agent doesn’t strongly recommend one, you might choose to do business with someone else.
When you make an offer on the home, always include a clause that says “contingent upon inspection.” This basically means you’ll have an expert assess the property for structural and safety issues.
If he or she uncovers anything that constitutes a deal breaker, you can pull out of the sale without a penalty. Problems may lurk beneath the surface, and a home inspector can save you from making a nasty investment.
Contact Green Residential Today!
Whether you’re looking for your next investment property or you want a home to last years, the real estate team at Green Residential can help make it a reality. We understand the frustrations of purchasing a home that isn’t what you thought it was, and we want to help you find one that meets all your expectations.
We also aim to make real estate in the Houston metropolitan area more affordable by offering our services at a flat-rate fee. This means that instead of committing a percentage of your realty fees for our services, you’ll pay a single flat rate, which can save you thousands in the long run.
For more information about the areas we service and how we can help you find the home of your dreams, contact us today!