For most people, buying a home is the largest investment they’ll ever make. I’ve seen firsthand what can happen when a potential homeowner gets overwhelmed and makes a decision without knowing all the facts about their home. Often, it leads to a lot of unplanned and expensive maintenance for a house that looked good on paper.
If you’re buying a home, here are some of the major mistakes I have seen that should help keep you from buying a money pit.
1. Skipping the Home Inspection
To me, this is the number one cause of headaches for new homeowners - they skip the home inspection, and they have no idea until it’s too late that they’ve bought a lemon. Even if it’s a seller’s market, buying a home without getting a home inspection is basically buying blind. A home inspection will help you get as full a picture as possible as to what shape the home is in.
A good home inspector will take time to walk through the home documenting everything, including problems that could lead to major damage or items to keep an eye out for that may need repairing in a few years.
I always recommend you go to the inspection so you can ask the inspector first hand your questions and get the answers you’re looking for. When you get the report at the end of the inspection, make sure you take the time to read it. They may recommend bringing in a specialist to check certain areas in a specific part of the home, like the HVAC system or electrical set up.
2. Not Pulling Permits
When you’re walking through the home, ask the realtor what kind of work has been completed on the home in the last ten years. Is there a new kitchen? Did the homeowners make more space with an addition? You want to hear about every major project that’s been done.
Once you know the home has been renovated, do a search for permits that match up to that work. If changes were made to the home’s structure, electrical, or plumbing, then permits would have been required. And if there are none? It means they didn’t hire a pro, or they did the work themselves. If they didn’t know what they were doing when they renovated, you could be stuck with a big repair bill.
3. Buying a Flipped House
You want to keep a careful eye out for homes that were flipped to make a profit. They’re designed to look good to the naked eye, but often, the same care isn’t paid to the quality of the renovation and materials used. There are a few warning signs you can keep an eye out for to determine whether or not it’s a flip.
Look out for cheap materials like low quality flooring, poor grade doors or windows, or examples of sloppy work, like a shoddy paint job, or uneven trim. If it looks like it was done in a hurry, it probably was, and probably for cheap.
Two of the major attractions of a beautiful home are a nicely renovated kitchen and a well-done bathroom. Ask the homeowner when they were last renovated. If they tell you they were both recently renovated, ask yourself, what are the odds that the homeowner had enough cash to do both rooms properly? It takes the proper amount of time and money to complete a good renovation.
Buying a new home should be an exciting moment. Just make sure you’re playing it smart. Arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible because there’s a lot of money on the line, and when it comes to homes - it’s buyer beware.
To learn more on how to buy a home properly check out Mike’s TV show “Holmes: Buy it Right” on DIY and HGTV.