You sure have heard about lemons – those products that fail quality standards and performance. They’re everywhere – from cars to gadgets, home appliances, furniture, and so much more. Good thing there are Lemon laws that are designed to protect consumers from buying these defective products by giving them the option to get a replacement or refund.
But lemons in real estate are a different thing and much more complex. In the ever-busy market wherein home sellers and buyers deal with foreclosed homes, unoccupied properties, and short-sale – people really run a risk of buying a lemon in their search for the perfect home. The worst part is that a big sum of money is at stake. And sometimes, it’s too late to retract the purchase.
How to Ensure You’re Not Buying a Lemon
While there’s no such thing as a “perfect house”, there are ways to avoid buying a property that has major problems before signing the contract of sale. Check out the following expert tips to spot a lemon house:
Hire a qualified home inspector.
Perhaps the most important advice you will get from home contractors and real estate brokers to alleviate the home-buying risk is to hire a qualified inspector. Just because a house looks lovely having newly painted walls and some cute furnishings doesn’t mean it’s a great property. Sometimes, the biggest horrors are found in areas that are beyond what your eyes can see. And that’s why you need a professional home inspector. What’s more, it can save you a couple of hundreds to thousands of dollars by uncovering structural issues, as well as hidden or deferred maintenance problems. Once the inspector discovers any problems, he can help you negotiate with the seller as to how these can be resolved. Often, the seller will pay for the repairs. Other times, they will lower the price or make adjustments in the payment contract to help the new owner cover the costs.
Check for missing permits, news and records on the property.
You don’t want to leave it all to the home inspector. You should also conduct your own research to ensure that you’re not buying a lemon. You may want to do an online search, interview neighbors, and contact insurance companies to to find news and records on the property. Most insurance companies subscribe to the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE) which is a database of claims filed on properties. They do this to protect their interest and to evaluate the policy holder and the right coverage for their home. CLUE reports are a great source of information that can potentially save you from buying a lemon.
You should also check for missing permits. Most municipalities in the United States have adopted a set of building codes in order to ensure the health and safety of a property’s occupants. Head to the Building Inspection division of the locality where you wish to purchase a house to verify building code violations.
Spot signs of water damage.
Fire and water damage are among the priciest to repair, but water damage can be more difficult to spot. You may need the help of a water damage specialist. According to HomeAdvisor, it would cost a homeowner anywhere from $1,041 to $4,074 to repair water damage. The cost can even go higher if it’s not treated immediately. When inspecting the property, have the roof and waterproofing checked, particularly the gutters and drainage systems. Assess the foundation for holes and cracks. Also, water patches on ceilings could be a sign of drippy plumbing or a failing roof.
Look for quality over attractiveness.
It’s easy to fall in love with the views, from the beautiful landscapes to the attractive decor and staging. But all these are minor things that warrant less attention. You want to go deeper into the quality and craftsmanship put when the house was built. Remember that some builders go the extra mile while others simply cut corners. Check for elaborate trim work, as well as specialized furniture with built-in storage or convenient, space-saving designs. Pay more attention to all the things that are affixed to the house. It is where the value is.
Horrors of Buying a ‘Bad Home’
A newly painted home can look brand new at first instance. But wait until you uncover the dirty secrets of a foreclosed or short sale property. Not all previous homeowners know how to take care of their property and not everyone is willing to spend money on regular maintenance, considering the fact that it would take them $1,204 a month or $14,448 annually.
Thus, the next homeowner typically runs the risk of taking the costly burden of repair and restoration. From mold outbreak to termite infestation, tile defects, leaky roofs, broken pipes, rotten wood floors, inefficient insulation, lead-based paint, and weak foundations – home buyers should really take time to research about each property to prevent themselves from falling into a money pit. While a online cash advance can be a great way to address these issues immediately, negotiating with the seller or previous homeowner can save you a lot of money which you can use for additional home improvements.
Finding out that the house you just purchased is a lemon could be the worst thing ever. So before you say ‘yes’ and shell out money, take time to assess the property by asking help from the experts and doing your own research. You may not find a perfect home but you could definitely find one that’s worth investing in and keeping.