During the house hunting process, first-time homebuyers will undoubtedly encounter properties that check all the boxes but require a little tender, loving care. Sure, you can address small imperfections with cash and a little elbow grease, but larger problems may require more attention – and some might even be unfixable.
So before a first-time homebuyer commits to a less-than-perfect place, familiarize yourself with these five homebuying deal breakers:
1. Bad roofing
Roofing materials don’t last forever. For instance, common shingles have a lifespan of around 20 years, according to U.S. News and World Report. Even time-tested alternatives such as copper, slate and tile lose their luster after four or five decades.
Purchasing a home in need of small roofing updates isn’t a big deal. However, try to avoid properties with roofs that appear to sag, Popular Mechanics suggested.
“A sagging roof is a structural issue and may indicate that the roof is unable to support its current load or a future snow load,” Nick Gromicko, founder of the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, explained in an interview with the publication.
To solve such a problem, you’ll have to fork over major money to replace or strengthen existing ceiling rafters.
2. Old electrical systems
Residential electrical fires cause more than $1 billion in property damage each year, the National Fire Protection Association found. In many cases, these blazes can be traced back to faulty wiring or outdated electrical equipment.
As a result, most contractors and inspectors advise house hunters to steer clear of homes with electrical systems that haven’t been updated within the last 30 years, Lifehacker reported. Leaving such a system in place will pose a serious risk to your family, and replacement could cost thousands.
As you walk through properties, check for functioning, well-labeled fuse boxes and watch out for exposed wiring that looks problematic.
3. Widespread mold
Most consider mold an entirely aesthetic issue. However, this simply isn’t the case, as the fungus can cause serious health problems for adults and children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Individuals regularly exposed to mold suffer from respiratory issues and those with chronic conditions, such as asthma, experience worsening symptoms. Additionally, recent research shows that black mold, a common indoor growth, may cause memory loss and pulmonary hemorrhages.
If you encounter properties with serious mold issues, pass. Major mold remediation costs a pretty penny and the health risks aren’t worth it, Trulia reported. Plus, the phenomenon usually denotes deeper structural issues.
4. Extensive water damage
Water damage is another common home problem. Leaks sometimes sprout up as a result of faulty plumbing or minor roof damage. Most are easy to fix and don’t pose major problems. Of course, larger, unresolved leaks are another matter.
Homewide ceiling stains and damp basement conditions are the hallmarks of such issues – and these are usually just symptoms of more serious headaches.
“[A damp basement] could also mean that your home suffers from negative grading, where the yard slopes toward, instead of away from, your foundation, or that your downspouts are discharging too close to the foundation,” Gromicko told Popular Mechanics.
5. A laundry list
Sometimes, the small stuff adds up. House hunters with their sights set on a poorly maintained home learn this rather quickly, as repairs mount with each new review of the disclosure packet. Even completely normal maintenance can become overwhelming, according to the National Association of Realtors.
If you find yourself organizing thousands of dollars in repairs or wading through extensive renovation options, you may want to step back and reassess the situation. American homeowners spend an average of 1 to 4 percent of their total property value on annual repairs, U.S. News and World report discovered. Homes that require larger financial investments probably aren’t worth the trouble.