Since the “real estate bubble” burst around the end of 2007 – 2008 many people are now looking to buy at discounted rates. This can be a great time to buy with some houses selling for only 20% of what they went for five years ago. Many people bought prior to the drop in the housing prices and now owe more than they paid. For this reason some people who are selling houses are trying to cover up some major issues to increase the value and make a quick sale. There are a couple things to look out for when buying in today’s market so that you don’t end up with someone else’s problem.
One of most common “band-aids” or cover-ups I see is new roofs. A new roof can be a big bonus to a property if it is done right but a major head ache if it wasn’t done right. Many people especially, investors who were looking to flip the house, don’t want to have to fix the roof right. They see an opportunity to cut the costs by as much as half by not tearing off the old shingles and not replacing any rotted wood underneath. They go over top of the old shingles and sometimes try to hide the old layers under new shingles and drip edge. This may work for a while but one good wind storm could start blowing the new shingles off if they aren’t nailed into anything solid. This is true especially with cheap three tab shingles. Even if they don’t blow off, the added weight may cause the roof to sag in areas or possibly even collapse under the weight. If you add a good snow storm on top of it the chances of a collapse go up. A roof can be very costly and if not fixed could start doing a lot of damage.
Another major concern is the foundation. With older homes or those close to major roads or trains the foundation is more often a concern. Some people don’t want to put money into fixing the foundation right so they do a quick patch job and hope to sell the house. You may want to check the foundation for any holes or cracks that you should address. If the foundation has a lot of patch work or a stucco finish that may be hiding a bigger problem. Also, it is a good idea to look in the basement or crawl space after a good rain storm to see if there is any standing water or dampness. If a little water is getting in now, a lot of water may be getting in later. A good foundation is very important and also very expensive to fix.
In general it is good to have someone inspect the house and look at all the little details. Many people are able to get caught up in the overall picture and miss what may be hidden. If a deal seems too good to be true it usually is so proceed with caution. This may be a great time to buy a house and there are many amazing deals but there are also a lot of people trying to get rid of their money pit houses. A good realtor can be your best tool and help answer any questions you may have.