When you’re in the market to buy a home—particularly when you’re a first-time homebuyer, it is easy to get carried away during the first tour, eager to put in an offer right away. During hot real estate markets when homes are flying off the shelves, so to speak, the pressure to compete with other buyers can really cause buyers to panic and act impulsively.
When you’re in the homebuying process, reviewing real estate listings online and touring numerous homes with your real estate agent, it’s important that you try to strip out as much emotion as possible so that you don’t fall in love with a property that could have major potential issues down the line.
Here are a few things to look out for to help you spot if a property is truly a dream home—or just a nightmare in disguise.
Use Common “Scents”
When you’re touring homes, trust your nose! It’s common for sellers and their agents to freshen up a home with room diffusers and scented candles, but you want to make sure that those scents aren’t covering up major potential issues such as smoke or mold.
Flip or Flop
Homes that have been flipped can have underlying issues if the updates and remodel wasn’t done properly. The reason that contractors recommend having a contingency fund during a home remodel is because once walls start coming down or flooring gets ripped up, there’s a chance that major underlying issues can come to the surface. If the home’s flipper cuts corners, this could cause a homebuyer to fall for fresh paint, shiny new appliances, and updated light fixtures, while missing potential plumbing, electrical, and foundation issues.
If you’re interested in a listing that has recently been flipped, make sure you pay close attention to the inspection report before signing on the dotted line.
While you’ll likely never find a “perfect” home, there are red flags you should avoid to help you from picking a home with foundation issues. If the doors or windows stick or there are large trees with big roots close to the home, the property could experience foundation issues. The average foundation repair can cost well over $4,000, or up to $10,000, according to Home Advisor, so avoiding these properties could save you big bucks—and a big headache—down the road.
Look Beyond Staging
In most cases, during your initial tour, the home will either have the current homeowner’s furniture and possessions or be staged by the seller’s agent. A fresh coat of paint, area rugs, and trendy paintings can make it very easy to miss flaws such as cracks on the wall or flaws in hardwood floors or tile. While an inspector will certainly take a peek at all aspects of the home, if you can spot potential issues prior to making an offer, it can help you either avoid a structurally unsound home altogether, or give you some ammunition during the price negotiation phase.
Purchasing a home for the first time is an exciting and stressful venture. It’s easy to get carried away, distracted by trendy light fixtures, shiny floors, and fresh paint, so it’s important to remember that purchasing a home is likely the largest investment you will make in your lifetime. Take a step back and consider all aspects of the home—including your commute, the neighborhood, and whether or not the house has “good bones.”
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