Whether you are browsing at an open house solo, or at a showing with your Realtor, these are four things you should always pay attention to:
The roof. This is definitely one of the first places to look at when you’re viewing a home. It’s not hard to detect an old roof with an untrained eye. You can tell when shingles are warn, if they are peeling off, and sometimes you can even see holes and other major or minor spots of concern. Why is this important?
PSA: Roofs are important and expensive!
This is not to say that you should never buy a home that doesn’t have a brand new roof, that’s a high expectation. However, it’s something you need to be aware of. Discuss up front with your Realtor about ways to handle these issues when writing up an offer, or be able to budget and plan for a new roof upon becoming the new owners of the home. If you’ve talked in much detail with your Realtor, or have been through the home buying process before, you know that you will likely have a home inspection done. Upon these inspections, if there are no active leaks in the roof (regardless of physical appearance or estimated life expectancy), the seller is under no obligation to make repairs. This is why it’s important to have a game plan prior to submitting an offer.
The ceilings. Ceilings are another place to look, and can sometimes be related to roof issues. Checking out the ceiling, as well where floors and drywall meet, can give you a heads up if there has been any leaking or flooding in the home. It’s easy to detect brown water stains on white ceilings, just as it is on drywall. If you notice possible water damage, ask your Realtor to get in touch with the listing agent about possible causes and when it may have happened.
The foundation. This is an area that I do not mess around with buyer clients.
PSA: This is even more important and more expensive than a roof.
Foundation work can upwards of $40,000 and is not something to take lightly. Unlike the first two, these problems can sometime be harder to detect. Sometime foundation issues are obvious such as bowed walls, cracks, visibly unlevel floors. Sometimes the fix can be as simple as installing supports to help combat settling. Other times you may need anchors to help pull foundation walls out, and worst case scenario would be that an entire new foundation would be needed in a home. Talk with your Realtor about this, they will have contacts who are skilled in this area to give you a better idea of the problem at hand and the possible costs to fix it. Or better yet, just keep your home search moving.
The electrical panel
This is a simple tasks but it can allow for some peace of mind. Although not likely, the first thing you can rule out when looking an electrical panel is that the home doesn’t have knob and tube wiring. This was primarily used until around the 1950’s, so it is only very relevant in older home. If knob and tube is not exposed and has been properly maintained & evaluated, this is not inferior to more modern wiring, nor is it illegal for not being up to code, but it does scare some buyers. Most wiring has been updated from knob and tube, but not the right way. Usually these are easy to detect as they just don’t look right. These types of problems can be illegal as they likely don’t follow code. If the electrical panel doesn’t look right, it’s probably not. Knowing what you have going on with the wiring in a home is not only beneficial for the buyer, but is a priority when obtaining homeowners insurance.