7 Red Flags Not To Overlook At An Open House

Dated: 09/18/2016

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7 Red Flags Not To Overlook At An Open House

When you're on the hunt for a new home, weekends spent touring open houses can quickly veer from fun to daunting by house No. 3. Keeping track of which home had that great kitchen (but terrible master bath) versus the home with a terrible backyard but a great floor plan can be tough. And while no house is likely to be perfect, when it comes to your budget, some updates are harder to swallow than others.

Unfortunate paint colors, though hard to see past, shouldn't sway your decision because they are easily changed. But other issues should give you pause because they will require costly repairs or indicate larger, underlying problems that simply can't be fixed.

1. How old is the roof?

"You really need to look beyond the new kitchen and bathroom and consider the bones of the home,"Adam Waggoner of Generator Real Estate in Denver says. One of the biggest "bones" of a house? The roof.

The typical life span of a roof is up to about 20 years, but the average cost to replace one runs into five figures, averaging about $12,000 but sometimes passing $25,000. That's why Omaha, Nebraska, real-estate agent Robert Jensen suggests paying close attention to the age and condition of the roof before making an offer.

2. Are there issues with the home's foundation?

This is what everything is resting on — literally. While superficial blemishes might not matter enough to affect a sale, if there are wide cracks in the foundation, Waggoner says, it's most likely not worth the time and anguish that can come with fixing it.

3. What is the state of the sewer system?

When it comes to sewer and septic systems, many people are in the dark on a few elements. First off, their level of responsibility: If something goes wrong, it's the homeowner, not the city, who must cover damages (frequently through homeowner's insurance).

The condition of the sewer lines is also not part of a regular home inspection, so a few hundred dollars for a dedicated sewer inspection could prove to be a worthy investment.

4. Have insurance claims been made on the house?

Jensen also recommends asking whether insurance claims have been filed on the house, and for what — the answers may offer insight into any past issues that might not be immediately obvious at an open house. If the house is located near a pond, lake, or stream, he says, it is important to ask whether flood insurance is required, because that can affect buyer financing or create difficulties than can delay closing.

5. Is there noticeable water damage?

"While it may not be easy for a buyer to spot a wet basement, there are some signs you can look for at an open house," says Caroline Staudt, a real-estate agent with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate in Boston.

"If all of the utility systems and basement storage is propped up a few inches or more off the ground, that may be an indication that the basement has had water issues.

6. How old is the wiring?

If you are considering an older home, don't ignore the possibility of outdated electrical systems and wiring. Older systems may still be functional but can pose a safety risk, can be difficult to insulate, and are sometimes hard to insure.

One example Staudt gives is the knob-and-tube system dating back to the 1930s and '40s, which can be spotted by its white/off-white knobs connecting to wires, often in an unfinished basement — and can be a big expense to replace.

7. How old are the windows?

Older, original windows often look great but can be painted shut or not airtight, which can make utility costs skyrocket in certain climates. Staudt advises buyers to consider the cost of replacement windows when they are making an offer on a new home.

Replacing old ones can be expensive, but having functional, efficient windows can increase savings in the long run — and be attractive to buyers the next time the home hits the real-estate market.

Contact Judy Griffin at the Griffin Group for more questions about home inspections to perform prior to purchasing a home at 850-685-8595.

Read the original article on Trulia. Copyright 2016.

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