Any homeowner will tell you that purchasing a home is a very big deal. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first home or your fifth – the experience is both incredibly thrilling and terribly stressful every time. This is one of the reasons the agents of Network Real Estate love helping our clients find the perfect home – there’s never a dull moment.
When you’re in the midst of the home buying process, it can be easy to overlook certain things, or to let your enthusiasm cloud your judgment. A house, however, is a huge investment and you need to make sure you’re not buying a lemon.
Below are seven things our agents help home buyers look for during the home buying process. Avoid these pitfalls and soon enough, your dream home will be yours.
- Foundation or structural problems. A good home has to be strong and stable. If the home you’re considering buying has a finished basement, walk down and check for cracks. Minor ones are OK, but large cracks can be a sign of damage. If the home doesn’t have a basement, the door frames can also be revealing. If they aren’t square, or if you have trouble closing the doors, it could be a sign of structural damage. While a home inspector may or may not be able to tell you the condition of the foundation, a structural engineer can let you know for sure. If you’re at all worried, go ahead and spend the extra money. Your peace of mind is worth it.
- Random spots of fresh paint. We often see fresh coats of paint when we’re touring houses, as it’s an easy way to update a home prior to a sale. However, if we see small, isolated sections that have been freshly painted, such as a spot near the ceiling or a strange part of the wall, we begin to wonder what that paint is hiding. It could be a sign that the home owner is covering up repairs done by an amateur or stains from recurring problems such as leaks. If you see strange patches of fresh paint, make sure to ask why it’s there and what’s underneath it.
- Lead paint. Lead paint was banned in 1978. If the home you are considering buying is older than that, it’s important to find out if the walls still contain lead paint. As lead paint ages, it can crumble, chip and turn to dust. Exposure to lead paint in these forms can cause serious health problems, especially in children and pregnant women.
- Carpet. Many homes are carpeted, especially in the bedrooms and living rooms. Before you sign any contracts, make sure to ask questions about the carpet. How old is it? Who installed it? What’s underneath it? If possible, pull back a corner of the carpet and take a peek to make sure the carpet isn’t hiding something (like mold, mildew or even older carpet) and to see the quality of any hardwood floors beneath it.
- Poor insulation. In the 1960s, when many homes were built, energy was cheap and no one thought twice about cranking up the heat in the winter or the AC in the summer. They also didn’t pay as much attention to insulation in the walls and attic, and windows were often single-pane. Today, families are more energy conscious for both environmental and financial reasons, and what worked a few decades ago is seen as a liability now. Check all homes you view for energy efficient updates and, if the home is still in the dark ages, calculate what it will cost to bring it up-to-date. You want to ensure your home is comfortable in the short term without costing you more down the road.
- Faulty wiring. Older homes are charming and full of personality. Unfortunately, they can also be full of health hazards. When viewing a home of any age, but especially older ones, make sure to check the wiring. Worn or outdated systems and DIY fixes are the most common problems we see. If you discover any issues with the electrical system, you’ll want to make sure these are taken care of before you sign anything, so you don’t lose your belongings, your brand new home, or your life in a fire.
- DIY additions. Thanks to the popularity of HGTV and Pinterest, everyone considers themselves a DIY expert. That’s all well and fine, until you’re the one investing in their experiments. If you see any additions, make sure to ask about them, including when they were put in and who did the work. Even if the homeowner tells you a professional added the patio or built the extension, ask for the name and number of that person and cover your bases by checking with them. It’s important to ensure that any work done on the home followed regulations and will not cause any safety issues in the future. This is going to be your house. You need to make sure you know what you’re buying.
We hope these tips help you avoid making any mistakes during the home buying process. However, if this list makes you feel more stressed about things you may be missing, don’t hesitate to contact Network Real Estate
. Our agents can spot red flags from a mile away and ensure your home-buying process goes smoothly.
Neal Johnson is a CMCA, CRB, CNE and GRI-certified, licensed real estate broker at Network Real Estate, which has exclusively served a high volume of property sales and purchases in the greater Wilmington area for more than 30 years. With offices at College Road, Historic Downtown and Pleasure Island, Network’s brokers are widespread and well-versed in this marketplace, making Network a preferred real estate company for first-home buyers and beyond.