When you’re looking for a new home or property investment, it’s easy to trust your real estate agent and leave most things up to them. Although this can be tempting, not getting the lowdown on a potential property can lead to an incredibly expensive mistake (homes and properties are likely the most expensive things you’ll ever buy). If you’re interested in a property, make sure you keep the following in mind as you dig deep to get the lowdown on it.
The roof is an important consideration as the wrong roof can significantly impact your budget. Look for high quality roofing and don’t just take the seller’s word for it. High quality roofing materials like architectural shingles can sometimes carry a lifetime warranty, but sometimes this warranty does not transfer between owners. Get information about when the roofing was installed, its condition, and if you will be able to make the most of its warranty. Doing this will help you to avoid unexpected roofing costs after the purchase.
Keep a look out for big cracks – cracks that are over a quarter of an inch wide. If you find any cracks this size, you should hire a structural engineer to inspect the property as these can be warning signs that the foundation is rotting or decayed (which will often require a demolition or expensive repair). Many sellers don’t want to let a crack ruin their chances of selling their house, so they fill it up and paint over it – you should be on the lookout for mismatches between paints and surfaces as you inspect the property for this very reason.
This should be one of the first ways you get the lowdown on a potential property and it can be done from the comfort of your own home: check out the ownership history and turnover. The average home ownership duration in the United States is roughly nine years. If you notice a significantly shorter ownership duration of the property (five years or under on average), warning bells should go off in your head. It could be that there are serious problems with the house, or just that it’s uncomfortable to live in due to traffic, noise, or safety issues.
The floors of a property tell a story. If it’s an old property, it’s very likely that the flooring will be uneven; this isn’t always a bad sign. If you’re looking at a fairly new property, uneven flooring suggests that you have flooring, or even foundation problems which can be very expensive to fix. If you notice very uneven flooring in an old home, take a look at the renovation and ownership history – if there has been work that boosts the foundations of the house (for example, the installation of a support beam), that’s a good sign. If you can’t find any evidence of that, you might want to consider getting the structural engineer back to inspect the property further. It can be a good idea to carry around a marble and use it to see how uneven the floors are, as some warping can be difficult to see with the naked eye.