So you’re a first-time homebuyer looking to get your foot in the door of Sonoma County homeownership. Even if you find a property that is priced right, you want to be sure about what you’re getting yourself into. Horror stories abound about people purchasing properties —only to move in and find problems that they didn’t envision before.
While no property is perfect, there are ways to avoid buying a house with significant issues before signing a contract to purchase. Here are a few expert tips on how to avoid buying a lemon property.
1. Hire a Professional Home Inspector
You may not have the skills and experience to recognize a lemon home when it hits the market. So it pays to hire a competent inspector to perform your pre-purchase home inspections. Some sellers will pull out all the tricks in the book to try and hide faults in a home. An experienced home inspector is familiar with all the tricks of this complicated trade and should give your professional advice about the condition of the home you’re considering.
You can save a great deal of money by discovering structural problems or hidden maintenance issues. Once the home inspector spots any problems, they can help you discuss how to resolve those issues with the vendor. Home inspections are a great way to choose properties, but a comprehensive inspection by an experienced expert before signing on the dotted line is a must.
2. Check for Water Damage
Water damage is one of the costliest issues to solve because it is tough to spot. That’s why it’s best to hire a water damage specialist. Search for signs of water damage in windows and doors to ensure it dissipates from the house. During the home inspection, have the waterproofing and roof checked, especially the drainage systems. Also, check the foundation for cracks and holes.
Pay special attention to odd smells, peeling paint, or soft surfaces. Check for these signs of water damage because mold removal and cleanup can be very costly.
3. Examine the Appliances
Check for reduced water pressure and rusting pipes by turning on the water. If black or dark brown water comes out, you have got rusty pipes. If the water is trickling, you are experiencing water pressure problems.
Damaged, outdated, or poorly installed and maintained wiring is a major fire hazard. Old homes are particularly vulnerable, but you should watch out for faulty electrical systems, even in new properties. Signs include flickering lights and darkened areas around electrical joints.
The heating and cooling systems can be challenging to figure out—not to mention very costly to fix. So, check the condition of the system, and find out if they are working correctly.
4. Buy a Home Warranty
To avoid the cost of getting significant home repairs, ask the vendor to get a home warranty and include this in the purchase contract.
You can avoid extensive, unexpected repairs if your electrical and mechanical systems malfunction by getting a home warranty. A home warranty covers the electrical systems, air conditioning, water heater, furnace, roof, plumbing, and ductwork.
5. Research the neighborhood
You also want to do your homework to avoid buying a lemon property. A lovely home can still be one big fat lemon if your neighbors are a nuisance. Check out the neighborhood before signing the contract, visit the community at different times of the day, and check what people are doing on the streets.
Check for late-night events and barking dogs. Local shop owners are often a reliable source of information, so ask around to know more about the streets and your neighbors.
6. Confirm, Avoid Assumptions
If you have set your sights on a location because you’ve read it is quiet, has excellent schools, and low crime rates, find out if these assertions are true. This will help ensure there are no unpleasant surprises.
7. Talk to a Real Estate Agent
A professional realtor should guide you through tours of the property. The agent should be able to point out the key selling points and any issues without pressuring you into buying the home.
Buying a home is usually the biggest investment you’ll ever make, so it’s essential to be informed before making a decision. Property defects can kill a home’s value—not to mention the fact that they could also lead to falls and injuries.
The hope is that the home inspection will bring back some good news, allowing you to close the deal as soon as possible. But if something goes awry and you have to look elsewhere, don’t despair — it will at least help you avoid buying a property lemon.
Don’t let a questionable house leave a bitter taste in your mouth. Call Anita Anderson today to learn more about the high-quality real estate opportunities available here in Sonoma County.