How to Avoid the Money Pit

Filed Under (Real Estate) on 10-30-2012

Buying a new home, Home buying tips, Steps to buying a home Precautions and Tips When Visually Inspecting Your Potential Colorado Home

By Vicki S. Porter and Rachel Brand

You have found the house you like. It’s in a nice neighborhood and has all the features that meet your needs.

Now you need to look at what kinds of potential issues the house may have and what questions to ask, so you know what you’re getting yourself into.  Before you hire an inspector (at $350 a visit), you can make a preliminary visual inspection of the home’s structure and wiring.

First, start in the basement.  The basement, if there is one, should give you a sense of how well the home was built. Look for the following:

•    Cracks in the foundation (foundation repairs can be very expensive) – which can show up as cracks on the walls or in the floor. Also watch for cracks around ceilings and doors.
•    Added support posts in the basement.
•    Mold in the basement.
•    Water damage, in the kitchen, bathroom or laundry room, or standing water in the basement or crawl space.

Look at how the elements can get into the house. Examine:

•    The caulking around windows where storm water can get into the house; and
•    Doors and windows that do not open or close properly, which could indicate age and/or structural problems.

Try to see if everything is working:

•    Run the water in each sink to check the water pressure and how quickly it drains;
•    Lift rugs to check the condition of the floor underneath;
•    Turn on every burner on the stove; and turn on the oven;
•    Run the dishwasher and check that the refrigerator is working; and
•    Flip on every light.

Then, ask some tough questions:

•    How old is the roof? Does it have a warranty?
•    How old are the water heater, furnace and air conditioner? When were they last serviced?
•    Is the electric service box updated and up to code?

Finally, consider the house in light of your needs and to paint a complete picture of what you’re getting yourself into. Consider:

•    Is there adequate space for your needs?
•    Is the lighting adequate?
•    Are the appliances newer or will they need to be replaced in a few years?
•    Is there enough storage?

For more information, see the Colorado Home Buyers Guide, 2nd Edition by Vicki S. Porter.