When you are looking for a new home to buy, one of the things you’ll want to be vigilant about is finding any problems that the house might have. Although sellers are required to disclose any issues that they know of, there are some sellers out there that may try to hide certain issues. The following are five common issues that sellers may try to hide from you if they can:
Some sellers may make a few temporary fixes in order to keep you from noticing any leaks. Leaks around the exterior of the house, such as leaks by windows, doors and in the roof, can be easier to hide if it hasn’t rained for a while. Be sure to ask about any leaks. Real estate agents are required to advise their sellers to fess up on legal disclosures and as transparency will increase the value, whereas lying about problems will cause distrust and can scare off buyers.
A house can look perfectly fine from the outside; however, hidden areas of the house, such as the inside of the walls, could be crawling with pests, from roaches to termites. Be sure to check the disclosure laws of your state as they tend to vary. Some states, such as North Carolina, Texas and Michigan, require sellers to disclose potential infestations to buyers. Not all states do, which is why you would be wise to have a professional pest inspection performed on the house you are interested in.
Some states don’t require the seller to disclose whether the house was involved with some kind of trouble in the past. For example, the house might have been the scene of a crime, or someone died there under tragic circumstances. Be sure to ask, since most sellers don’t want to volunteer this kind of information if they don’t have to. A simple online search on the property should be able to reveal any morbid history that the house might have as well. While this shouldn’t affect the house itself — physically speaking — some buyers may be uncomfortable living in a house with a troubled history.
Age of HVAC system and appliances
You don’t want to get stuck with a house outfitted with old and outdated appliances or HVAC units. Not only are older units less efficient, they may not perform well anymore. They may be getting close to the end of their lifespan, if they haven’t reached it already. Replacing or repairing HVAC units or appliances can be quite costly. If you ask the seller, they may simply tell you that they don’t know — even if they do. You can sometimes tell if the units in the house are ancient or not, and besides, sellers will usually highlight newer appliances and HVAC systems in their listing. You can also speak to neighbors and ask them how often they’ve seen repair vans visit the house to get an idea of whether there have been a lot of problems in the past.
Roof or foundation issues
Having to repair or replace the roof or foundation of a house can end up costing tens of thousands of dollars. While a professional home inspector will look for problems in these areas, they may not always be able to find potential problems if they are hidden from view. One way to learn about any potential problems with the roof or foundation is by asking your homeowner’s insurance agent for a CLUE report (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange), which is a claims information report.
Most sellers will be upfront about the issues that their house has because they understand there’s a good chance you’ll find out about them before you close on the house, in which case the deal would fall through. It’s better to be transparent because buyers may still decide they want to purchase the house, even if they ask the seller to make the necessary repairs or to subtract the cost of repairs from the price of the home. This is usually a better option than not selling the house at all. However, there are sellers out there that think they can get away with withholding information, so be careful about these five potential issues when looking at a property.