House hunting can be fun, as half of it is walking through beautiful homes as you try to find the one that has the perfect number of bedrooms and the most updated kitchen. But remember that what you see on the surface is not the whole story. You might think a house you walk through once or twice is your dream home, but on closer inspection, it’s suffering from water damage and an unsafe neighborhood. So before you fall in love with a house, make sure you double check a few possible issues that can turn buying a home into an expensive nightmare!
You deserve to feel safe in your new home, and finding out the crime rate before you buy can help with this. Luckily, there are several apps and websites that will tell you the crime rate statistics—including the frequency of several types of crimes—for the neighborhood you want to move into.
In some cases, checking the crime rate before buying a home can simply give you peace of mind if it turns out it’s a safe area. Once you find out that crime is pretty rare around the house, you’ll be able to take walks and go to local parks without worrying about your safety. In fact, an easy way to see for yourself how safe the neighborhood might be is to observe if there are kids playing outside alone, as well as people taking walks alone. If you notice the streets are pretty empty and you read that the crime rate is high, you’ll know not to buy that house if safety is important to you.
If you work outside the home, you’ll want to get an idea of what the commute to work will be like. While you might see estimates on maps or from other residents, those might not be accurate if you plan to commute during odd times. So the best way to find out what the commute is like is to drive to and from the house at the time you’d be going to and from work.
After all, the house might be in a great location that doesn’t seem far from work according to the map, but maybe the rush hour traffic is worse than you’re used to. Or there’s only one way in and out of the area, and a single car accident can create a huge backup. It’s good to know these details about the commute before buying a home.
Another detail to check before buying a home is the noise level in and around the house. Visiting once during an open house won’t always tell you the whole story, especially if you notice the selling agent has music playing in the background or lots of fans on for white noise. Those could be clever ways to mask noise issues, such as a neighbor’s barking dog or traffic noise from a major road nearby.
The best way to scout out these issues is by visiting the house at a variety of times, including weekdays, weekends, and nights. You don’t even have to go into the house to listen for sounds that you might not want to deal with once you move in. You can just sit outside the house or take a walk down the street to see if you notice any noises you didn’t hear on your initial visit.
Some houses seem so perfect that you fall in love with them without realizing you’re basically in the middle of nowhere, with no amenities nearby! Granted, plenty of people are trying to get away from populated areas, so being a half hour from a grocery store might sound fine to them.
But if that’s not what you’re looking for, it can be jarring to realize there’s nothing within walking—or at least close driving—distance. So before buying a home, look at a map to find out how far the house is from grocery stores, drug stores, restaurants, banks, schools, hospitals, gas stations, and any other amenities you might use. Otherwise, you might end up spending more time in your car than you anticipated just to run errands or complete school drop off and pickup every day!
If you’re enthralled by the kitchen’s double ovens or French door fridge, that’s great. Just make sure they work right before buying the home! It’s possible the seller bought them just to entice buyers and has no idea if they work right. It’s also possible the seller hasn’t used the appliances very often and simply doesn’t know if they work correctly.
Of course, you’re not exactly expected to check the appliances on your first visit to the home. It would probably make for an awkward open house if you started baking food in the oven or putting a load of dirty clothes in the washing machine to make sure it works! But just check to see if everything works before you finalize the home purchase—especially if the nice, modern appliances are a major reason you chose the house to begin with.
Another issue you might not normally think about before buying a home is possible odor in the house. If you notice there are a few scented candles burning every time you visit the house—or the real estate agent always magically has cookies in the oven when you arrive—this might be an attempt to cover up a strange odor. In that case, you’ll want to ask if you can look at the house when there aren’t candles burning.
This is because a stinky house is not always just an indication that someone needs to take out the trash or do some dishes. Sometimes it’s a sign of a more serious problem, like mildew or mold, or cigarette smoke that has permeated the walls and carpet. These issues can be expensive for you to deal with after buying the home, so make sure they’re identified and taken care of before you buy.
Some of the most important components of a home are the most expensive to fix when there’s an issue. So before buying a home, make sure the major systems are in good working order. These include the heating and cooling systems, plumbing, the roof, and the electrical system. You can often detect issues with these parts of the house by taking a close look while you walk through the property.
For example, if you see exposed wires or a few rooms where the lights or fans don’t seem to work, there might be an electrical issue. If you look under the kitchen sink or bathroom sinks and see broken and rusted pipes or evidence of water damage, there’s probably an issue with the plumbing. And if there are shingles missing from the roof or evidence of leaks inside the house, these details could indicate potentially expensive problems. Make sure you address them with the seller before buying a house.
Of course, a thorough home inspection before you close on the house should help you avoid all these issues. But you can likely catch these early in the home buying process if you are sure to ask questions and know what to look for. If you’re able to discover these issues quickly, you can likely negotiate with the seller to get them fixed or lower the selling price, or cut your losses and move on to another house. Either way, make sure you have the right real estate agent helping you navigate the buying process. If you don’t have one yet, contact LemonBrew to get in touch with a Partner Agent today so you can go through the closing process with confidence!