If you are considering buying an existing home, there are a few things you need to know before you put in your offer and hire your inspector. This article gives you a run-down of the most pressing items that concern most home buyers.
1. Seller Disclosure
Before putting in an offer on a home, it is important to carefully review the Seller’s Disclosure. This document should list the previous and existing issues of the home that the Seller knows about. The Seller is obligated by law to disclose any known defects. Of course, not everyone will remember everything to put on the disclosure and not everyone is perfectly honest, that’s why it’s important to get an inspection, and to ask questions to clarify any discrepancies in the disclosure.
2. Hidden Defects
Prior to putting in your offer, be mindful of the hidden defects of the home. It is possible to hide things about a home without actually being dishonest. Of course, you want to review the Seller Disclosure Notice prior to making any offers, but you also want to look under rugs, behind large paintings and furniture just to make sure there are no cracks that need to be addressed. A crack is not always the end of the world, but you do need to make sure that everything is addressed to prevent a problem in the future.
The DFW area is ripe with foundation laden issues for existing homes. They say that it’s not a matter of “if” the home has foundation damage, but “when” the damage will occur. It’s okay if a home has foundation issues that have been repaired, but unrepaired foundation issues can be a major problem–and keep you from getting a loan on the home. Make sure that all foundation issues have been addressed and that there is a transferrable warranty in place. If there are obvious foundation issues that have not been addressed, you may want to let that sound the alarm to move on to another home.
4. Heating, Cooling Equipment
The air conditioner outside as well as the furnace and duct work inside and the hot water heater are all costly items that need to be addressed prior to purchasing a home. The life of an air conditioner is thought to be about 15-20 years if it is well maintained. A hot water heater is believed to have about a 10 year lifespan. You want to make sure that the A/C is cooling to the appropriate temperature and that the heater is working well. On an older home, it is recommended to have a licensed technician inspect the system to make sure it is working and will continue to work for years to come.
You will also want to consider the level of insulation. Generally, if there is a problem with the insulation, this will come out in the inspection process.
5. Pool Condition
The pool is a deep consideration (no pun intended… ha). People do not want to buy a pool that needs a lot of maintenance done to it within the next few years. The more work that needs to be done to the pool, the less value it adds to the overall home. Things that matter when it comes to the pool includes: resurfacing, pump, cleaning equipment). You need to make sure it is up-to-par for the next several years. If not, then you need to deduct the costs to replace or repair the pool from the overall value of the home, and therefore, the overall price you pay for the home.
6. Past Insurance Claims
If you are seriously considering purchasing an older home, your agent will likely run a CLUE Report on the Seller and/or the property. The CLUE Report will provide information regarding any property damage insurance claims made in the past 7 years. If there are claims that are not disclosed, you will want to investigate further.
7. Roof Condition
One of the first things that many buyers want to know about an older home is the age of the roof. In Texas we have a lot of hail and many roofs are replaced by the insurance company. You need to know if the roof is insurable, and if any claims have been filed for the roof for repairs that were not made. You need to make sure the roof is in good condition so that it will last for years to come. If roof repairs need to be made, then you will want to ask for those repairs to be either made, or to receive concession for the repairs so you can take care of that yourself after closing.
8. Plumbing, Drainage & Leaks
You will want to make sure that the plumbing is solid in the home. If it’s pier-and-beam, you’ll want to have the inspector go under the house to make sure there is no standing water or water damage. You want to make sure that the water pressure is sufficient, and that the facilities work well and that there are no leaks under the sinks. You will also want to check out the garbage disposal and dishwasher. Much of this stuff is done by the inspector, but you can check for obvious signs of problems before you put in an offer.
You will also want to consider drainage around the home. Is there standing water near the house or in the garage after it rains? Little things like this are good to know before buying the home so you can be prepared or ask for repairs before your option period is up.
If there are obvious water leaks, of course, this is cause for concern. It doesn’t mean the house is a dud, it just means that you will want to investigate further. You need to know if the leak is disclosed, what caused the leak and whether the source of the leak has been repaired. You also need to know if there is mold inside the walls. You can find out more by asking the owner directly, checking out the inspection report, finding out about past insurance claims as well as having a professional, licensed plumber investigate.
9. Windows & Doors
You want to make sure that windows and doors are in good condition. Many windows in most older homes need to be replaced because of broken seals. Broken seals cause condensation in the windows that cannot be cleaned. These windows will need to be completely replaced. Generally the buyer requests that the seller take care of all windows with broken seals, and sometimes the seller will offer cash in lieu of doing the repairs themselves. One thing to consider with windows is the size and style. Some windows are not easily replaceable. Make sure to have a professional window technician inspect the windows and give a price quote for replacement before your option period expires. You don’t want to be stuck with a home that needs all new windows.
10. Electrical & Wiring
The electrical wiring of a home is very important. Older homes are sometimes not up to code. Many times the panel box will be in the wrong place or will be the type that needs to be replaced. The replacement for the box is anywhere from $1000-3000. Many times buyers request that the seller take care of the panel box if it is old and not up-to-code, and many times the seller refuses to fix the box siting the fact that no fires have occurred in the 30 years since the home was built, so there is no need. This is up to you, the buyer, to negotiate with the seller if you want the home.
Another big issue with the electrical is that many older homes lack GFCIs. A GFCI is a fast-acting circuit breaker designed to shut off electric power in the event of a ground-fault within as little as 1/40 of a second. Your home inspector will let you know if GFCIs are needed in the home you are considering. Installing these generally costs around $50 per outlet and must be done by a licensed electrician.
If you are in the market for a new or existing home anywhere in the Dallas-area, including: Plano, Frisco, McKinney, Allen, Prosper, Celina, Lucas, Murphy, Wylie, Sachse, Carrollton, Farmers Branch, Little Elm, Garland, Dallas, Addison or surrounding areas, contact me, Jenna Ryan, Realtor. I would love to show you around and help you find your Home-Sweet-Home.