5 Steps to Avoid Buying a Lemon for a House
As a homeowner, you are bound to encounter necessary home repairs, both big and small which can catch you by surprise. Luckily, there are several ways to determine whether a house is a sour lemon or a sparkling gem. Here are five steps to help keep you from buying a money pit.
1. Attend inspections
You should always attend your own home inspections, including the pest inspection, roof inspection and any others you might need. Being there in-person means the inspector can physically show you the items that may need to be fixed and give you their professional opinion on the size and severity of each repair. You can also have them help you determine which repairs take precedence in terms of safety and cost. This level of detail may not be included in the written report.
2. Read the reports and disclosures
After attending the inspections, you should read the inspectors’ reports. Be on the lookout for repairs completed by the sellers themselves, repeated repairs to the same home feature, water and leakage issues and any reports of mechanical or other system malfunctions in the home. It is your duty to follow up on your reports and disclosures with your real estate agent to make a list of questions and concerns, ask the inspector and seller any follow-up questions, coordinate follow-up inspections and obtain reliable repair estimates.
3. Get multiple repair bids
While some inspection specialists may offer you a cost estimate of repairs with your report, most general property inspectors do not. Avoid surprises by obtaining multiple repair bids from reputable contractors while you are still within the inspection contingency time frame of your contract. You can also use these repair bids as a foundation for any renegotiation you and your agent decide to initiate with the seller for price reduction, repairs or increased closing cost credits.
4. Stop overconfidence in its tracks
Don’t underestimate the amount of time and effort required for each home repair project. You may think some repairs are small enough for you to complete on your own, but most home improvement projects take more time and money to do yourself than you originally expected. Even if you plan to cut costs by doing some of the work yourself, it’s smart to get estimates on these repairs or upgrades from real professionals.
5. Prioritize price reductions and credits over seller repairs
For the most part, buyers select their own materials and contractors who are more invested in guaranteeing that all repairs are completed to their satisfaction than a seller who is on their way out. If you are planning to negotiate with the seller over necessary repairs, discuss with your agent whether it makes sense to ask for a price reduction or a closing cost credit to offset the cost of repairs. This way, you can ensure that everything is completed to your specifications and with your choice of materials and contractors after closing.