There are several mistakes some home-buyers make, and some of them are huge!
MISTAKE #8: FAILING TO MAKE YOUR OWN INSPECTION
You probably would not want to rely on the seller to point out defects in a house he is attempting to sell. There may even be hidden problems of which he is unaware.
Be sure your sales contract is worded so that any "earnest money deposit" must be returned in the event the house fails inspection. If a major defect is found, you have the option to cancel the contract and have your deposit returned, bargain for a lower price to compensate for the cost of repairing the problem, or have the owner make needed repairs before the sale.
Even before you get to the point of a contract and having a professional inspector look at the house, there are many items you can check yourself as you are shopping for a home:
- Structure/Basement: Check the foundation for cracks or water marks.
- Floors: Are they level?
- Roof: Does it sag?
- Water damage: Look for unevenly painted ceiling or wall; mildew odor in basement; signs of re-plastering or re-tiling in just one area of a room.
- Water pressure: Flush the toilet and turn on both hot and cold water faucets at the same time to test.
- Plumbing: Ask what type pipes are installed and their age. If applicable, ask when the septic system was last inspected and cleaned. Stand near the tank to detect odor or soggy ground.
- Wiring: A 100-amp system is typical in modern construction and uses a one-inch main line; this can be seen leading to the fuse box. Appliances such as dryer or range require a 220-amp line. Notice if lights flicker or don't work. Check for electrical outlets . . . usually at least 2 in each room.
- Energy efficiency: Ask to check last year's heating and cooling bills. Determine if proper insulation has been used.
- Pests: Be alert for small accumulations of sawdust in the basement. This might indicate an insect problem. Obtain date and results of the last wood-destroying pest inspection.
A few final tips:
- Ask to see the seller's survey made when the seller bought the house.
- When you are shopping, take a copy of the "Home Buyer Checklist" to keep you alert to possible problem areas. Avoid "surprises" by keeping your eyes open.
- Be certain that you are clear on problem areas which convey with the property and repairs which the seller agrees to make. Have this list with you when you go for your walk-through.
You can be successful in the home-buying process. During the entire process you should remember to buy with "resale" in mind.
In short, be alert! Be curious!