Monday, December 7, 2020 / by Nicole Solari
Buying a house is a very exciting process, but it’s also a huge financial commitment. It’s understandable how one can find themselves swept up in the excitement and the homey feeling of a house and make an offer immediately. But not so fast – there are multiple hidden dangers that can sour your new purchase.
From structural problems to haunted houses and terrible neighbors, here are 6 hidden things to check before you close on your new house.
1. 1. Terrible neighbors
It may seem inconsequential to you, but your neighbors may very well be just as important as the house you’re moving into. The only problem is that you don’t always know what they’re like or what issues they may create further down the line.
That’s why it’s always a good idea to go around to the neighboring houses and drop in for a chat. That way, you’ll get to know the neighborhood and your neighbors before dropping a few hundred thousand dollars.
Most of the time, you’ll discover that the people are perfectly lovely and the neighborhood is as nice as it seems. But once in a while, you’ll leave thinking that you dodged a bullet. Don’t wait until after you’ve moved in to meet your potential neighbors and make an idea of what life will be like having them next door.
2. 2. Poor internet access
It doesn’t occur to people until they’re moved in and realize that their internet is spotty, but you have to check for internet access before you seal the deal. In 2020, it’s hard to imagine that there are still residential areas that aren’t covered properly.
However, there are certain areas that are only served by a couple of providers, that don’t have fast enough internet, or where there are other issues that will be a headache to deal with later.
An area like Fairfield is served by around 7 main providers, while Victorville is covered by 5 main providers, and less densely populated areas in California have even fewer options. You want to check this before you move in, especially if you work from home or otherwise depend heavily on the internet.
3. 3. Crumbling foundation
Foundation problems are some of the trickiest to repair – and unfortunately also some of the most common in homes. That’s why it’s better to pick up on these things before you buy, rather than after the check clears.
The most obvious signs of a poor foundation are cracks, but it doesn’t have to be literally crumbling for it to be in bad shape. There are other hidden signs, like doors and windows that are misaligned. Speaking of windows and doors – is there space around them? That is typically also a sign.
A sloping floor can also reveal a dodgy foundation, as do cracks on the inside of the house – in the tiles, in the brick, in the sheetrock – if you notice those, address them with a professional, or move on to a different property.
4. 4. Collapsing roof
Any homeowner who’s had to replace a roof knows that it’s one of the worst bits of damage you can discover upon moving into a new home. Whether it’s not properly supported, it’s missing shingles, or it’s outright leaking, it’s an expensive nightmare to deal with.
That’s why it’s good practice to go check out the state of the roof. Start by asking the current owner how old the roof is, if it’s been repaired, etc. Then take a look at the shape it’s in – how are the gutters? Is the drainage good? Does it present any dry rot? Is it crumbling or sagging in any spots?
That’ll enable you to form a clear picture of the state and possible lifespan of the existing roof and factor it into your budget accordingly. It may be in perfect shape, it may need some light maintenance, or it may be a storm away from collapsing. Either way, it’s best you know sooner, rather than later.
5. 5. Sketchy ownership history
Have you ever considered checking the history of ownership of your potential new abode? You should, because that can reveal a lot of hidden clues regarding this home.
Look into it – how many owners has it had so far? How long has each person kept it before selling it on? Long periods of ownership usually indicate that it’s a solid house that you can grow into and that can be the long-term home for your family.
A long series of short-term ownership indicates the exact opposite – there’s something wrong with this house, whether it’s structural problems, hidden damage, rodents, or even ghosts. You might want to look into that, or even better – avoid the house entirely. There is something that is undisclosed causing all the owners to get rid of this property.
6. 6. Hidden water damage
A tale as old as time – you buy a home that seems perfect, you move in, you live in it for a while, and a few months in, you make the dreaded discovery: undisclosed water damage.
Usually, that means that unlike previous owners, you can’t paint the problem away, and more serious repairs are necessary. Depending on how serious the damage is, it can make your home susceptible to mold or even worse – it can weaken the structural integrity of your house.
Checking for water damage before committing can be tricky, but there are ways to do it subtly. Pay attention to the floors when you walk around the house – if the floor sinks slightly, is even, warped, or tilted, that’s usually sign of water damage. So are misaligned tiles and floorboards.
Water rings around pipes, walls, and ceilings are also tell-tale signs, as well as dampness in any areas inside the home, outside the home, or around the foundation. Sometimes, these spots are well-hidden by curtains or furniture, so make sure to inspect thoroughly, especially around windows.
There are a million things you need to be aware of when making a purchase as big as a home, and some of them will affect your life more than others. Make sure you’re not overlooking any important checks, like structural integrity, internet access, or undisclosed issues with your property.
A lot of these problems will be hidden away, in the hopes of scoring a quick sale and a better price, but don’t let yourself be fooled. Taking the time to do a quick check looking for tell-tale signs is 100% worth it.