When you're buying a house, you're really taking a leap of faith. If you're like most people, you're making the largest purchase of your life without really knowing what you're buying. While you hope that the house is in good condition, without careful inspections you can't be sure that it won't require expensive repairs. Doing good due diligence up front can help make your home ownership experience more pleasant and more profitable.
Many states require sellers or their agents to disclose everything that they know about a property. These disclosures are an excellent place to start as you analyze a property. While they won't list anything that the seller doesn't know about or chooses not to tell you, you can assume that any problems that are listed are real and worth investigating.
Before buying a house, have a certified home inspector visit the home and go through it. He will inspect the home's condition and give you a report on what he finds. While some issues might be minor enough to let slide, you may negotiate to have the seller repair other issues, or you may decide to walk away from the home. Bear in mind, though, that while a home inspector may be a professional, he probably is not an expert in every aspect of the home.
If there are areas of the home that particularly concern you, you can bring out a specialist. When a roof appears to be nearing the end of its life, a professional roofer can tell you how long it will really last. In many parts of the country, pest inspectors are helpful to either identify the presence of insects and rodents or find smaller issues, like molds and mildews. Radon tests are also important in certain areas. While these inspections carry additional cost, if they find an issue that the home inspector misses, they could end up saving you much more in the long run.
Additional Due Diligence
Finally, you can do your own due diligence. Walking through the property with inspectors to see what they see is wise. If you see repair stickers in the house from people that have done work in the past, try calling them to see what was done. You can also call utility companies to get historical usage data and compare the house to the area's norms. If it's well outside of normal range, it could be a sign of larger problems. Another option is to call a previous owner of the home if they owned it relatively recently, and see what their experiences were with the property.
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