When you walk through a prospective future home, there are always amenities that you look for: bedrooms and bathrooms, updated kitchens, highway proximity…everyone’s list is different. While you are drooling over the kitchen, there can be many problems being hid from potential buyers. Here’s how you can spot the worst issues that homeowners try to cover up:
1. Leaks- From improperly finished basements to aging pipes, there are plenty of ways water can make its way into and damage a home—and plenty of ways that a homeowner can cover up the problem. If you notice a very recent paint job, or find lots of detritus pushed up against the basement walls, ask more questions about the water situation. Sellers are legally required to disclose known problems or past damage.
2. Environmental Hazards- Older homes often relied on oil heat, which means that many of them still have oil tanks buried in the back yard. Since these tanks are costly to remove and are susceptible to toxic leaks, it’s crucial that you know whether a prospective home currently has or ever had a buried oil tank. Look for telltale pipes sticking out in the back yard and always ask about a home’s heating system, both past and present.
3. Foundation Problems- Foundation problems are both costly to fix and notoriously tough to spot, as cracks can easily be covered with paint or strategically placed furniture. Signs that a home is standing on shaky ground include uneven paint lines around windows and doors; flooring that feels as though it’s going up or down (even slightly); and, of course, zigzag cracks.
4. Neighbourhood Problems- Do your sellers only agree to show the home at certain times? Do they visibly stiffen when the neighbors come up in conversation? This could be a sign of problems on the block—from barking dogs to frequent traffic noise—that they are trying to keep quiet. Ask specifically about any potential noise issues, as homeowners are legally required to report on known nuisances in the area.
Any one of these problems could turn your dream home into a nightmare. Before purchasing a property, I always advocate an inspection, neighborhood walk through and in-depth conversations with neighbors and current owners. Feel free to be in touch with any questions you may have about purchasing your next home or property.
Christy Bamber BCOMM
Calgary Luxury Portfolio