How to Know if a Home Needs Costly Repairs
If you are a homebuyer, one of your biggest worries may be, “Will I find the right home to buy?” But, part of your concern about buying and moving into a new home should be if the home you choose is in good condition.
No home is perfect. There may be some repair issues, but it may not be a big deal if they are minor or if the home is priced accordingly to factor in those repairs. However, never overlook warning signs that a home has some major, expensive repairs lurking. And you may not be able to identify those signs right away - don’t look for a house thinking you can tell if it’s a good buy at first glance. According to Forbes, “Before you put down that deposit, don’t forget to carefully inspect the home—even if it appears to be in good condition.”
Here are some things to look for before you put down your deposit:
The Roof: A well-constructed roof can last more than 30 years, but if the shingles were not installed correctly, it can affect their lifespan. Ask how old the roof is. Look at the roof from the ground for signs of missing shingles, discoloration, sagging or curling up at the corners. All of these signs can indicate a costly repair in the near future.
A home inspection (which you should always do right after you place an offer on a home and before you sign the final papers) will tell you more about the condition of the roof, but if the roof looks bad upon quick inspection, it probably is. Repair or replacement can run you $10,000 - $30,000 depending on the size of the home. This doesn’t necessarily mean you walk away from the home. You could use this as a negotiation point with the sellers to adjust the price if a new roof is really needed.
The Septic System: If maintained, a septic system should provide reliable service for many years; but if it isn't maintained, it can fail. Septic systems also have an operational lifetime and will eventually need to be replaced. Look for wet, soggy areas above or near the leach field or the septic tank. Also look for spongy, bright green grass over these areas. Odors may be detected near the tank or leach field if it is not functioning well. Gurgling sounds may occur in the plumbing and drains may empty slowly. Ask about the age and condition of the tank and for receipts indicating the tank has been emptied on a regular basis.
A home inspection will also tell you more about the condition of the tank and determine if there are any signs that there is an issue with handling waste.
The furnace or boiler: A furnace can last 15 years, or even up to 20 and 30 years, without too many issues. Ask about the age of the unit, if annual maintenance and cleaning was done (receipts are good to see), and if any repairs were performed in the last few years. Typically, the last two years of a furnace’s lifespan will require several repairs or part replacements. If the owner produces a number of repair receipts from the last couple of years, this could be a sign that the furnace is nearing the end of its lifespan.
Again, your home inspection will tell you more about the condition and remaining lifespan of the furnace and if there are any signs of repair or safety concerns.
Buying a home is an investment, and you will need to make repairs while you live there. However, you don’t want expensive surprise repairs to cost you more than you bargained for. Look for signs of major repair issues, and follow your real estate agent’s advice and schedule a home inspection to learn about anticipated repairs before you buy.