We’ve talked about the benefits and the pitfalls of a fix and flip (in a nutshell: you could make a load of money or you could end up in the psych ward) when you are, in fact, the fixer and the flipper. But what if you are just on the buying end of the deal? What if you are the lucky potential owner of a house that has been polished and prettied up for you?
Well, first, pat yourself on the back for finding a diamond without the rough. You just saved yourself a lot of work. And maybe your sanity. And who can put a price on sanity?
The most important thing, besides imagining your first cocktail party and where you’ll hang the Halloween decorations, is to make sure the house is safe, both structurally and environmentally. Here are a few issues to investigate before you move in:
Usually asbestos is found in homes built before 1980, so if you are considering a house that was built before then, ask for an asbestos test as part of your contract. Asbestos can hide in a lot of places, including insulation and vinyl tiles.
Most homes built before 1978 will have lead paint, but the test to find lead is invasive. Most sellers will provide a disclosure to buyers stating that the presence of lead-based paint is not known. If you are concerned about this as a buyer, you can test for lead-based paint once you purchase the property.
Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless radioactive gas that exists in the ground and can seep into your home through cracks and holes in the foundation. Radon gas can also contaminate well water. And radon can cause lung cancer. Fun, right? So, in a nutshell, request a radon test before buying.
Those trees in the front yard are gorgeous, but they could cause you problems in the future. Asking the seller to provide a sewer scope allows you to identify where a line is damaged and where roots may be entering or suffocating a pipe. And a scope will allow you to see how many areas in the pipe system need attention, which will determine if you’re looking at repair or replacement. As you can imagine, the word ‘replacement’ is much more costly than ‘repair.’
Talk To People:
Like the planning department, your neighbors, your realtor and the owners. The planning department can offer guidelines on what is and is not allowed for future renovations; so if you are buying this house with big plans to pop the top or extend the kitchen, be sure those projects will be approved before you buy.
And making inroads with the neighbors is always helpful; these are the people who can tell you what really happens on the block, how strict the HOA board is, and how the area has changed over the years.
Your realtor is on your side, always. But so are the current owners. Really. They want to sell you their house just as much as you want to buy it. So ask them for insight on the property, the previous owners, and any contractors and suppliers they used to update the space.
Finding your next home should be a dream, not a nightmare.