Searching for a new home can be an exciting but overwhelming experience. With so many details to keep in mind, you may miss the warning signs for potential problems. While no home is perfect, you don’t want to buy one that’s going to be too expensive or time consuming to fix. Here are five home-buying deal breakers and how to handle them.
Deal breaker #1: The roof
A few missing or broken shingles won’t cost much to fix but replacing an entire roof can really bust your budget. Depending on the size of the home and materials used, a new roof can cost anywhere between $10,000 to $30,000. The good news is once it’s done, you won’t have to replace it again for another 30 years. Ask the seller how old the roof is and keep an eye out for common problems such as damaged flashing, clogged gutters and ponding water. To be safe, hire a roofer to do an inspection. If the roofer uncovers leaks and other major issues, try to negotiate the repair costs with the seller.
Deal breaker #2: High-risk flood zone
Buying a home in a high-risk flood zone puts you at greater risk for property damage and may result in you paying thousands of dollars for flood insurance. To determine the homes risk, input the address into FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center or go to your local municipality office to look up the flood zone maps. If the house is located in a high-risk area, ask the seller about any flood prevention measures they’ve taken such as installing a sump pump, backflow valve or flood sensor. Even if the sellers are willing to come down on the price, you need to strongly consider if it’s worth the increased risk and extra expenses.
Deal breaker #3: Outdated electrical systems
Many older homes have electrical systems that haven’t been updated in decades. Outdated electrical systems are a potential fire hazard and limit the amount of appliances you can use at one time. They’re also expensive to fix. Rewiring an entire house can cost anywhere between $3,000 to $20,000. Signs that there may be underlying issues include exposed wiring, flickering lights and hot outlets. It’s strongly recommended that you have the home inspected by an electrician. If major work needs to be done, ask the seller for a price reduction or have them cover the repair costs.
Deal breaker #4: Plumbing
Dripping faucets, clogged drains and poor water pressure are all common plumbing issues you can spot on your own. It’s the hidden surprises that can quickly turn your dream home into a money pit. Major problems with your sewer line or septic tank can cost anywhere between $25,000 to $50,000 to be fixed. Chances are you don’t have that kind of money lying around so hire a plumber to thoroughly inspect your pipes and sewer systems before closing. If extensive work needs to be done, ask for a price reduction or walk away from the deal.
Deal breaker #5: Bad history
Between poor maintenance and amateur repairs, a home’s history can cause problems for future owners. The seller’s disclosure guide will provide information about any recent repairs and renovations but if it’s lacking details, don’t be afraid to ask questions. You need to know when and why the repairs were done, as well as if the work was done by a licensed professional or on their own. If it was a DIY project, have the home thoroughly inspected by a professional. Depending on what needs to be done, the repairs can be costly so try to negotiate with the seller.