With the busy moving season upon us, many of you will be searching for your new home, if you haven’t already found it. House hunting is both fun and stressful and while I definitely want you to enjoy your experience, I don’t want you to fall into any traps. As I continue my own search for a new home, I have found that it’s easy to get tunnel vision when you find something you love. Luckily, I have learned a lot in this industry and I have a wonderful Realtor on my side so I’ve caught myself before making any major mistakes. We’re told not to judge a book by its cover, and the same goes for homes and their curb appeal … to some extent. While some exterior issues can be easily fixed, others lead to a whole slew of problems that you don’t want to deal with.
Let’s assume you’ve found a home in which the interior is perfect. It offers the space you want, beautiful updates, that oh so special “charm,” and you can see yourself moving in and living happily ever after. Take a step back outside and spend some time checking out the following:
The Foundation: I know that a few cracks in the concrete may not seem like an issue but the truth is, they’re a big deal. Cracks allow moisture penetration and over time, deterioration of the concrete. It’s hard to say exactly how long that will take because it depends on how long the cracks have existed before you started looking at the house. This is an especially large issue in areas that freeze in the winter time. If you see cracks, get an estimate on the cost of repair and consider that in your offer/negotiation.
Additionally, it may be worth it to learn more about the soil grade against the house. The foundation should be exposed by about two inches and it’s important that there is a slope away from the house so that water never pools against the foundation itself.
Trees and foliage: Look, I get it. Who doesn’t want some greenery around their home? But did you know that if a tree is planted and growing too close to the foundation that it can cause problems down the road? Removing that tree may not be the answer either. The foundation can drop once that tree is gone and the roots decay. Talk about a headache. On top of base problems, look up! Do any of the tree limbs extend over the house? If so, be sure to look for shingle/roof damage too. And check the attic because little woodland creatures like to use those large branches to access homes, which may very well be inside the attic.
Foliage is a beautiful home accent too. You just don’t want it in direct contact with your house as they can hide termites or carpenter ants (this is something I need to be especially cautious about here in Florida). Consider getting a termite or WDI (wood-destroying insect) inspection on the home before closing.
Pool: My fiancé and I are on different pages when it comes to looking at homes with a pool. He really wants one but I’d rather avoid the maintenance. But that is neither here nor there. If your dream home has a pool, you absolutely must ask these three questions:
- How old is the liner?
- When was it last resurfaced?
- How old is the equipment?
Be sure to order a proper pool inspection too.
If you run into any of these issues, don’t worry. It doesn’t mean that you have to give up on your dream house. Simply make a list of concerns and use them during the negotiation. The seller may be willing to complete the repairs or offer compensation to have them completed after the sale is final. Either way, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.