Buying a home can be confusing, even when you’ve done it before. That’s why the tips and strategies you’ll find in my 8-week series will set you on the right path. It’s my own unique approach and a “behind the scenes” glimpse of what you should look out for and consider when starting your own search for a home.
You’re excited to go house hunting and to find your forever home, right?!
Don’t let your excitement or desire for a that perfect home spur you to make any rash decisions or overlook some serious red flags. You don’t want a home you’ll regret buying, so carefully weigh the pros and cons before making an offer.
Some homes might seem good at first sight, but our list of hidden red flags could save you in the long run. At least consider them before you decide to make an offer on a home.
Remember to think twice about buying a home when you see these signs:
You want to buy into a neighborhood that will retain its value. How do you know? Here are some tips:
Many “For Sale” signs, rentals, and foreclosures could mean it’s not a stable neighborhood and that owners want to get out if they can. Foreclosures and rentals could mean you’ll see less well maintained properties, which can drag down values.
If it’s a transitional-type neighborhood, make sure it’s an up and coming one and not declining. Sometimes it’s hard to tell by just looking so your real estate agent can go over current sales activity to give you a more complete picture. Are prices going down or up? How long are properties on the market? Are homes selling for more than the asking price?
These days, many buyers want are willing to commute for a vibrant neighborhood with restaurants and shops nearby, which has led to the development of new master planned communities like Bridgeland in Cypress or The Groves in Humble.
Sometimes you can get a good deal if there is major growth coming to the area you want to buy in, even if it looks a little desolate now. This could be a great opportunity to get in before it takes off. Just make sure that any proposed plans are actually funded and approved by the necessary government agencies, and not just a developer’s pipe dream.
You know you’ll need to hire a qualified home inspector to examine the home to see if there are any structural and maintenance issues. Don’t skip this step when buying a new construction home! Some potential problems are hidden and hard to see at first so that’s why you always need to get an inspection before you buy.
You’ll need to decide if anything the inspector finds is worth the time and money to fix, or if it’s time to say good-bye. Your inspector isn’t going to tell you whether you should buy the home, he or she is only going to observe what is noticeable to their trained eyes on the day of your inspection.
Be sure to carefully consider moving forward with a home that has any of these items noted in your inspection report:
Lack of overall general maintenance. Don’t ignore this since it’s a warning sign that this home hasn’t been properly taken care of for many years. And that means that major issues – such as water damage — could be lurking.
Questionable fixer-uppers. Some issues are typical for the age and location of your home and not the sign of poor construction. You may not mind a typical fixer-upper with “good bones” in certain neighborhoods, but you do want to steer clear of a home that has too many issues but isn’t really that old. That’s especially true if the construction just doesn’t seem solid or sound, and if carpentry looks unfinished.
Do-it-yourself additions or any DIY work that isn’t up to code. If the addition looks awkward and cheap, it probably is and could be detrimental to the home when you want to resell. Or, you’ll need to factor in the cost and time to tear down and rebuild properly. Make sure to ask for permits pulled and approvals given by the permit or building office in the jurisdiction where the home is located.
Termite infestation. This can wreak havoc on a home. Determine how bad and how much it will cost to fix and prevent in the future. You can do this for about $50 by calling a termite company. Better now than after you move in.
Moisture signs. Flooding is a fact of life in the Houston area, so it’s important to know whether a home has flooded, and if so, was it properly remediated. Water marks on the ceiling or walls could signal a leaking roof, gutters rusting, or faulty plumbing – all leading to wood rot and other possible destruction. All can be fixed but you’ll need to determine the extent of the damage.
Cracks in the wall and sloping floors. Both could point to possible structural and foundation issues, which can be costly depending on the age of the home. You can get another inspection with a professional who specializes in foundation issues.
Faulty and outdated wiring. This can be a serious fire hazard and you’ll have to consider the cost to fix and update. Inspectors should check for overloaded circuits and proper grounding. If you are looking to do a lot of renovations to an older home, make sure it has enough electrical amperage coming into the home.
Sometimes you’ll walk into a room and feel like something is not right. Be a detective and examine the home carefully when looking for these signs:
Just one freshly painted wall could be hiding mildew, mold or water damage.
Too many air fresheners or scented candles could be masking a strong odor from pets, smoke, or mold.
An oddly placed rug or piece of furniture could be hiding damaged floors or carpeting.
Windows and doors not opening and shutting properly. Go around and open and close them to double check!
All of these are warning signs to make you step back and thoroughly consider if you should proceed with the home no matter how much you love it. Although many things can be fixed, it really depends on your budget and the time and energy you can devote to what needs to be done.
There is no right answer here, but go into buying a home with your eyes wide open. That way you’ll have a better sense of what you are getting into and you can avoid any huge surprises down the road.
Next week I’ll cover 4 Little Known House Hunting Tips. You’ll learn about two things you should always do, and two things you shouldn’t when looking at homes.
I'm Leila Hays, and I love helping homeowners looking to move up to their forever home while selling their current home with as little stress as possible. And maybe a little fun, too. I'm here to make your real estate dreams come true!
9303 New Trails Dr. Ste. 165
The Woodlands, TX 77381
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