8 Subtle (but Important) Things to Watch Out for When Buying a House


If you’ve decided to buy a home, congratulations! We can all agree that investing in a house is probably one of the best ways to build wealth. Buying a home could feel a lot like gambling if you’re not very sure how to spot a potential money pit.

Luckily, we’re here to help. Learning what to look for when buying a home is simple if you have the right tools and help on hand. Naturally, there are some things to look for when buying a house, such as size, school district, and neighborhood vibe.

However, once you’ve settled on all that, you will need to know if a home has good bones. For instance, is it built to last, or is it about to fall over? Here are a couple of things you should look for in a house to help answer that question, so you will feel confident you’ve decided on the best choice.

buying a house
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Here’s what to look for when buying a house:

Before we start explaining all the nitty-gritty things to consider when buying a new house, we wanted to remind you to make sure you’re financially, and most importantly, emotionally, ready to buy a new house. Once you’ve got the green light to start looking for a house, make sure it has these things:

Roof condition

Unless you are Shaq-sized or have a collection of drones, you probably won’t be able to see a home’s roof during any of the showings. However, that doesn’t mean you can easily forget about it.

I mean, if you think about it, the cost of a brand-new roof ranges from $5,000 to $12,000. There’s an easy way to avoid surprise roofing costs along the way by figuring out a roof’s condition with a couple of simple questions.

How old is the roof?

If you want to know just how long a roof is made to last, you will need to know what it’s made of. For instance, asphalt shingle roofs should last somewhere around 20 years. Once you know a roof’s range, you could compare that to the typical lifespan of the material it’s made of and check how long it’s left.

Does the homeowner have a roof certification letter?

Contractors give roof certification letters after any inspection. These certification letters will show the estimated lifespan of the roof over the next 2 to 5 years. However, not all sellers will have it. Nevertheless, it can’t hurt to ask.

Can a roof inspection clear things up?

If you’re worried about the roof’s age and condition, you might want to get a proper roof inspection. Roof inspections are quite different from home inspections, as home inspectors don’t always check out the roof.

If you only take into consideration the home inspection report, you might miss some serious and expensive repairs.

Reliable HVAC

Unless you’re fine with potentially having to warm up or cool down your home the way they used to do it in colonial times, you might need to check up on the HVAC system before buying anything.

As you look for houses, you might want to ask about the type of heating and cooling system in each house. More importantly, you need to watch out for how old the system is.

But there’s so much more you could do! Did you know that you’re allowed to ask for any maintenance records? Generally, units last somewhere between 10 and 25 years.

If a unit is broken, repair costs could vary depending on the type of system and how big it is. But on average, you might spend $7,000 to replace an existing HVAC unit.

And no, you can’t always count on a home warranty to automatically cover that. If a home’s unit is under a decade old and doesn’t have any rust, water damage, or other suspicious-looking cracks, and it also doesn’t make weird sounds, chances are everything’s in good standing.

However, if you’re worried, you could also hire a home inspector. They should find any other major issues that might have escaped your attention. From there, you can easily work with your real estate agent on any needed repairs.

plumbing issues buying
Photo by Andrey_Popov from Shutterstock

Plumbing issues

If you’re not very familiar with home plumbing, it’s easy to get confused and make a mistake. Some people don’t know how much Drano is or why the only efficient way to get your toilet to stop running is to turn on the shower.

Generally, experience with plumbing issues will teach you that, and no one really wants to have experience when it comes to that. That’s why we totally get it.

Fortunately, examining the big three, which are sewer lines, toilets, and water heaters, could help unclog some of the confusing aspects of plumbing matters. Here are three questions you need to ask:

How fresh are the sewer lines?

If a home is 20+ years old and the seller hasn’t really provided any disclosures, you could get a sewer inspection. Whether it’s pipe disintegration, obstructive tree root growth, or any other pretty righteous clogs, they can all jack up the system.

Also, you might want to keep in mind that sewer line replacement can range anywhere from $1,200 to $4,700. That’s a ton of money!

How do the toilets look?

You might want to check for leaks, unstable bases, and discoloration. Yes, you are totally allowed to flush the toilet during a home showing, so just have it! The same applies to all the showers and sinks that are in tip-top shape.

What’s the state of the water heater?

A water heater generally lasts 10 to 15 years, and if you look closely, you can find an installation date written on the unit. A brand-new one could cost from $800 to $1,600, depending on what you need.

Also, if it’s making weird and unusual noises when it turns on or if it’s getting really rusty, you could also hire a professional to take a look at it.

Also, even if the house you’re looking for checks most of your requirements but still has some issues down the road, just get the homeowner’s insurance to cover the problem. This goes even higher if it’s a big-ticket item like a sewer line.

Water damage and mold

Untreated water leaks and water damage might cause a plethora of problems, like structural issues, rot, and even mold. This goes even further when it comes to basements.

You might want to pay attention to any kind of musty smell in the house and also check if there are any water stains on floors and ceilings. However, if you decide to move forward with a home that might have water damage, you can ask a home inspector for advice.

After all, just the idea of mold lurking in the dark corners of a home is horrific enough to trigger a fit of the willies. The cost of removal can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on how big the damage is.

And since the mold can be easily considered a health hazard, you might want to get it treated before moving in. Also, find the source of the moisture to prevent other infestations.

If you’re concerned about negotiating water damage and mold repairs, you need to remember that your real estate agent gets both your side and the seller’s side of the deal. You can ask for their advice and expertise in these situations.

If you’re interested in reading similar articles, you definitely need to check: 10 Must-Have Home Upgrades for Your Golden Years

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