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Buying a house is probably the biggest purchase you’ll ever make in your entire life. Doesn’t it make sense to do as much homework on the potential home as possible before making this huge life decision? Yet, many people don’t take the time to do their due diligence before signing the bottom line. Don’t make that mistake. Here are the top seven things to check before you buy a house.
1. Get a Home Inspection
There’s no way you can tell everything about a house just by looking at it. Specialty without some sort of industry experience. You might think you have a good eye for detail. However, noticing a little bit of peeling wallpaper doesn’t mean you can tell if there is mold or termite damage behind the walls. As soon as you start seriously thinking about making an offer on any house, pay for a private home inspector to come out and inspect the home.
The home inspection report will cover such items as faulty wiring, lead paint, foundation cracks and much more. At the least, you’ll be fully aware of the condition of the house you’re going to buy. At the most, you might be able to leverage problems outlined in the inspection report to get yourself a better deal on the purchase price.
As you drive up to the house, take a good look at the roof. One thing you want to look for is a sloping roof. This could indicate that it’s beginning to cave in. Look for discoloration. Does the roof appear to be covered in some kind of white or green substance? White discoloration could be mildew. Green discoloration could be mold or moss growth.
Do you notice any spots that are darker than the surrounding areas? That could be a sign of water saturation. Other things to look for are broken or missing shingles. Roof repairs can be expensive. A complete roof replacement is even more costly. Remember that a bad roof can lead to problems like leaks, water damage, and mold inside the home.
3. Violent Death in the House
In California and a few other states, real estate law dictates that owners must disclose a violent death if it happened within the last three years. Aside from that, you are not legally protected from buying a home where a violent death has occurred. Of course, home deaths occur all the time. A senior may pass away quietly in their sleep. A person may choose to leave the hospital and die at home, surrounded by their loved ones.
However, there are other causes of home deaths, such as violent crimes and home intrusions. If you would rather not know of such occurrences, that’s fine. But what about when its time to sell the house. Do a google search on the property address, check the local media and talk to the neighbors. It’s better to learn of a violent or unindented death in a house before you buy the property. As it might hinder the future resale value of your home.
4. Scent Overkill During Showings
When you walk into a house for sale and notice the fragrance of incense or freshly baked cookies, it’s supposed to make you feel cozy and warm. However, beware if the scent is overpowering or the seller has taken pains to scent every room. They may be trying to mask an odor that is less welcoming.
When certain things go wrong in a house, they emit a telltale scent. If you could smell it, you’d have a warning that something is amiss. Telltale scents include muskiness, which is a sign of water damage or mold growth. Smoke, excrement and rotten eggs are other odors that you should try to notice in any home you are thinking of buying. When it comes to buying a house, pay attention to your sense of smell.
5. Window Condition
Don’t be shy about inspecting the windows in the home. Pull back the curtains or raise the blinds so you can get a good look. If you see signs of damage or age, be careful. Window replacement is complicated and costly. Know what to look for with the condition of the windows. Cloudy panes indicate that the seal is broken on a double-glazed window. If the window sticks, it may just be painted shut. Otherwise, it could be something more serious, such as a sinking foundation.
6. Exterior Problems
Take a walk around the house and look for exterior problems. Gutters and downspouts should be rust-free and held securely in place. There should be no pools of water near the foundation of the house. The ground should slope downward, away from the home. Siding should be intact, with no missing slats.
Wooden shingles should not have signs of insect damage. Driveways and pathways should be free of cracks and be spalling. There should be no tree limbs overhanging the roof. Shrubbery should be trimmed and there should not be excess plant debris beneath bushes and trees. Have the sprinkler turned on if there is one, to make sure it is in proper working order. If a sprinkler system is installed, make sure it works properly.
7. Property Lien
A property lien on the house means that someone else can claim part ownership of the property, even after you buy it. You can avoid this complication by performing a property lien search. This can be done online, through the town’s tax assessor website. You can also visit your town hall in person and perform a property lien search. A title search company may also be able to help you ascertain if there is any outstanding property lien. Pay close attention and make sure nothing is missed.
Read more: How do I know the zoning of my property?
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