By: Jeff Perlman Editor in Chief
Summer is a prime time to buy a house as families seek to move while the kids are off from school.
We scoured the web and talked to some real estate agents about what buyers should look for when they attend an open house or arrange a visit with a local realtor.
Although water can be an attractive feature if it’s part of your view, it can cause a significant amount of damage to a home if it comes inside your home. If you’re touring a house, look for water stains beneath sinks and on walls and ceilings. Water stains can mean a leaky pipe or if the stain is on the ceiling, it can mean the roof is leaking. It’s also a good idea to the check the inside of cabinets for a damp smell or mold, as this can be indicative of a plumbing problem. In addition, you may want to turn on all of the faucets to check the water pressure and see if there are any leaks under the sinks.
We have lots of rain in Florida and drainage is an important feature to check out before committing to a home or neighborhood. Walk around the outside of the home and see if there is any standing water near the exterior walls. Unless there was a recent storm, there shouldn’t be any water next to the home. All water should drain away from the home. You may also want to check the roof gutters and downspouts to make sure they are in good condition and not clogged.
If you see a hairline crack in an interior wall, it could mean the plaster wasn’t applied correctly when the house was built. But if you see a large crack, especially on the exterior of the home, it could mean the foundation is shifting and there’s structural damage. Either way, it would be advisable to tell a home inspector so he or she can get to the root of the problem. A number of years ago, an entire neighborhood in Delray Beach was built on an old landfill and required significant repairs. When the ground shifted it led to major cracks. The city and CRA had to team up for mitigation, but we wouldn’t suggest relying on city government to fix your foundation problems.
It’s difficult to check the roof without climbing on top of the building. But if you walk to the edge of the street, you may be able to see if the roof is tattered, if shingles are missing or if it’s caving in. Sometimes the repairs can be simple, other times you may need to replace the entire roof. Be sure to have a home inspector check the roof and if necessary, contact a licensed roofer.
5. Electrical systems
As you’re walking through the house ask about electrical outlets to make sure each room has at least two outlets. Older homes may only have one outlet per room, meaning you may end up using extension cords. Too many extension cords can put a burden on the home’s electrical system and start a fire. Also look for exposed electrical wires, as they can lead to electrocution or a fire. In today’s “wired” world it’s important to check if your new house meets our device centered lifestyle.
6. Termites and wood damage
Termites can cause a tremendous amount of damage. They like to eat cellulose, a substance found in wood, and left untreated, they can destroy wood floors, walls and patios. One way to determine if a home has termites is to see if there is wood damage. For instance, wood floors may droop, buckle or sag. You can also check for soft spots in the wood, especially along the bottom of wood decks or patios. Other signs are their droppings or wings. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if the damage was done long ago or if there’s a current infestation. As a result, you should request a termite inspection. Many lenders require proof that the property is free of termites, but if you’re lender doesn’t, be sure to request an inspection.
By: Jeff Perlman Editor in Chief