Buying a home comes with a certain amount of anxiety. The whole process is complicated enough as it is, without wondering if you are getting more than you bargained for. The 1986 film The Money Pit plays to these fears perfectly, as Anna Crowley and Walter Fielding (played by Shelley Long and Tom Hanks) buy what seems to be their dream home, only to have it crumble around them and tear their relationship apart.
Hollywood hyperbole aside, “The Money Pit” is gut wrenching for a reason—buyers often fret there is something the real estate agent is hiding from them, or that the sellers are secretly trying to unload a lemon. While these problems are unlikely, there are a few potentially big issues that might make a buyer change their mind about a home.
1. On the Level
Foundation issues can be caused by a wide range of factors, but age is not one of them. Do not assume a house is fine just because it is new. According to Bob Brown, author of Which Way Is My Foundation Moving?, if a house does have foundation problems, buyers should utilize both a home inspector and engineer to get an accurate idea of the cost of repairs. Depending on the extent of the damage, repairs can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.
2. Raising the Roof
A single leak in a roof is a relatively easy fix. Multiple leaks or significant roof damage (like from hail) will most likely require the help of a professional. That means extra time and expense that a buyer was not anticipating.
3. Night of the Living HOA
Homeowners associations are practically unavoidable in North Texas, so buyers need to make sure they find out as much as they can about the HOA before they sign anything. How much are the dues? What rules do members have to follow? Are there any hidden fees? There are plenty of HOA horror stories out there, so try to gather as much information as possible beforehand.
4. Shock and Awe
Electrical problems are not very common, but they can be dangerous and cause property damage. According to Angie’s List, buyers should be on the lookout for a burning odor coming from outlets or switches, flickering lights, ceiling fixtures that are hot to the touch, getting a shock when touching an appliance, broken circuit breakers, or outlets that just plain don’t work. Some of these problems are easy for an electrician to fix, and some could indicate a more extensive problem.
5. What’s That Smell?
Buyers do not really want the previous owner to linger, and getting rid of decades of cigarette smoke or pet odor can be a big job. Depending on how bad the smell is and what caused it, the new buyer may have to do as little as clean every surface and change the air filters to scrubbing every inch of the interior and ripping up the carpets. You may not need to hire a professional, but time is money, too.
Buyers can relax to a certain extent. The truth is, real estate professionals with Eric Cantu Real Estate are required to act in the buyer’s best interest, and buyers should have a home inspected before they sign the final paperwork. Even so, if an inspection reveals more than you are willing to put up with, maybe ask your real estate agent to keep looking. The unlucky Walter Fielding puts it best, “Here lies Walter Fielding. He bought a house, and it killed him.”