The Money Pit House: Top Five Pitfalls to Avoid
When you buy a house, the last thing that you want to do is spend a lot of money taking care of or fixing unexpected problems. Buying a house is already a big decision and a huge financial commitment. You don’t want to get stuck spending even more money than you have to, especially when you weren’t planning on it. To keep your potential home from turning into a money pit, use the tools and resources that you have available to you.
Use a good and local real estate agent. Their knowledge of the market will be invaluable. A home inspection is a must to uncover any potential surprises. Plus, it never hurts to do your own digging when looking at homes. Here are five money pit signs that you’ll want to look for, so that you can avoid them.
Pitfall #1- The Basement
When it comes to a money pit house, you don’t want to look at the kitchen. You want to look at the basement. Of course, if the house you’re looking at doesn’t have a basement, you are already dodging one of the biggest potential money pits a house can have. You will want to look for any potential damage, like sagging floor joists. Keep an eye out for dated heating or air conditioning systems, as they can be costly to repair or replace.
Basically, the basement will tell you much of what you need to know about the house. It will let you know if the current homeowners are taking care of the house, the state of electrical and plumbing systems, and if there is any damage, structural or otherwise.
Pitfall #2- Ignoring the Water
When you are checking out the basement, you’ll also be looking for signs of water damage or any dampness. If the basement smells musty or seems damp, that’s a sign that moisture and water is getting into the basement. Water in the basement is not a good thing.
Of course, your search for water damage isn’t just confined to the basement. Look for water stains that will tell you of prior or current water leaks. Check the bathrooms and kitchen, paying special attention to the fixtures. You can usually get a good idea of any potential problems by seeing the state of the fixtures. Look for corrosion, proper caulking and sealing, and mold buildup.
Water damage can be a costly fix, because you can never see the true extent of the problem until the repairs are started. Depending on where the water damage and leaks are could also warn you of a potential fire hazard, if water is getting near electrical systems.
Pitfall #3- The Windows
A part of looking for water damage will include looking at the windows. You want to make sure that they are sealed properly. But, while you’re looking at the windows, you will also want to look for any other damage. Warped window frames are not good, and can mean a costly repair as you will have to replace the entire frame. If the windows are older, you’ll also be spending more money on your monthly utilities. Sometimes, replacing your old windows with new ones is more cost effective than the extra energy expenses.
Pitfall #4- Mold
This is a big one, and any homeowner or potential homeowner dreads hearing that their house has mold in it. Not only can mold be incredibly toxic and dangerous, but it is also expensive to clean up. After that, you have to figure out where the mold came from, and take care of that issue as well. Mold comes from moisture, which means water leaks. When you are checking the house for water damage you will also be looking for mold.
Unfortunately, mold can also be hard to find. If you come across any strange smells or odors that don’t seem to have a specific source, it’s possible that there’s mold. Even if you find a little evidence of mold, it could be a sign of a much larger, and much more expensive, problem.
Pitfall #5- The Foundation
It’s unlikely that you will be able to fully explore the foundation of the home you are looking at buying, but there is some that you can do. Visually inspect the foundation outside the home, looking for cracks or buckles in the foundation itself. Take note of any trees that might be really close to the home. The roots could grow into the foundation and cause problems.
Again, you should always have a home inspection done. Home inspectors are trained professionals, and it is their job to determine the true state of the home. A home inspection, with a local real estate agent, and your own quick inspection can keep you from buying a home that’s a money pit.