It’s here! The big day where you have gotten all your savings together, your mortgage pre-approval set and now you and your realtor can head out searching for houses.
While it all seems pretty exciting when you’re watching House Hunters, there are a few key things that you are going to want to watch out for during the home buying process that can lead to trouble later on.
I know you love that shiny granite and stainless kitchen, but a smart home buyer is a well prepared home buyer. So before you start your search, know that you need to be on the lookout for these three things.
Cracks in the Walls
The first warning sign to look for in any home are cracks in the walls or foundation. Foundational issues are huge, and really expensive, so you want to make sure that you give the walls a really close inspection.
The good news is not all cracks are that bad. If you see a few vertical or diagonal cracks in the walls or foundation, that’s ok. It just means that house has settled. So you are generally going to find a few of these in an older home, or a house that is in a colder climate where the heat variations cause the house to expand.
The trouble is when you come across horizontal cracks or cracks that look like a staircase. If you see these in a house you love, it should raise a massive red flag for you. Horizontal cracks means that there is an issue with the foundation, not good.
Horizontal cracks indicated structural problems, so unlike a vertical crack a simple patch job will not do. Instead, most likely, additional structural reinforcement will be needed to make sure that any cracks don’t spread.
Speaking of basements, here’s another warning sign: a musty or damp smell. As much as you can avoid it, you really do not want to buy a house that takes on water, because yet again, it is another huge expense.
A musty smell in the basement can indicate there is a mold issue, which is generally caused by a water problem. Mold is not your friend, once it’s found you have to make sure it is totally removed from the home, because it’s a health risk to you and your family.
A great way to double check if a house you like has a water issue is to take a second visit after a rainstorm. The house might seem bone dry on a nice sunny day, but after a good rain, any leaky basements will not be able to hide their water issues.
Another issue is a drafty home. Older houses, especially, do not have the insulation and windows that we have today, which generally means there is going to be a draft. And a draft means come winter time your hard earned money is floating, in the form of heat, is floating right out of your house.
There are a couple of easy ways to check if a home is drafty. First, take a look at the windows, older windows generally are not that insulated, so you are going to be able to feel wind or cool air actually blowing through it.
Another thing to look for is proper insulation on the outside walls. In the living room or bedrooms, put your hand right up on the wall around the windows, is the wall really cold? Chances are that means the insulation isn’t that great.
In the summer, it’s hard to tell if a house is going to be cold and drafty. So be sure to check with your realtor to find out what the winter heating costs are, if it’s a few hundred a month, you know you might be dealing with a drafty house.
Now, of course if you have fallen in love with a house and have the money in the bank to fix these issues, by all means move forward. None of these are a dealbreaker for many people. However, it’s really good to just know that any of these issues could mean, so that you (and your bank account) and prepared to face them if the time comes.
Do you have any house hunting tips you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments!