Be aware of these real estate omissions or mischaracterizations so you don’t get blindsided
You’ve finally found the house you’ve been looking for. Now all you need to do is make an offer, attend the closing, and pack your bags, right? Unfortunately, your dream home can become a nightmare if the seller didn’t share important details about the property, such as a cracked foundation or a pest infestation, and you don’t notice until you’re all settled in. Below are four examples of issues you should watch out for, as sellers may try to hide them during the sales process.
1. Age of systems and appliances
Sellers may try to gloss over how old the water heater and HVAC systems are with the “I’m not sure” excuse. Having to replace these vital systems or even the dishwasher in the near future should affect your decision on whether to buy the home or what to offer. A home inspector can get you this information very quickly so you’re aware of the real condition of the systems and appliances.
Sellers often plug leaky ceilings, faucets, or radiators in order to avoid dissuading prospective buyers. Leaks can typically be a fairly easy and quick fix, so if a seller decides not to properly repair one prior to putting the house up for sale or tries to hide it, it says a lot about the type of person you’re buying from. If they go through the effort of hiding the leak, what else could they be hiding?
It is the buyer’s responsibility to ask the right questions but the seller’s responsibility to provide accurate information. As you walk through your potential new home, keep an eye out for these issues. Be on the lookout for significant cracks in the foundation, mold or musty odors, and water damage to the walls or ceiling. If you decide to put in an offer, be sure to get a thorough home inspection by a professionally-licensed inspector to determine if the seller has hidden anything. If you do find something, you might want to consider including the repair cost in the closing, as well as the price of a home warranty.
3. Bad neighbors or neighborhood
Be sure to ask the sellers about the neighbors and the neighborhood. Are there certain neighbors to watch out for? Are there any odd or noteworthy rules from the Homeowners Association (HOA)? Let them give their opinion, and then double-check their feedback. Greet the neighbors yourself. Conduct research online about the local crime rate. If the seller does not disclose any vital information when they are directly asked, they might not be someone you want to do business with.
4. Property taxes or HOA fees
Typically, mortgage companies will make the buyer escrow their property taxes to make it a part of their monthly payments. This makes the amount you owe in property taxes a factor in determining if you can afford the mortgage on the house or the area. Ask the sellers when the last time the home’s value was assessed, and if you should expect an increase in taxes in the near future. When was the last time the amount increased and do they know why?
Also be sure to inquire about any planned improvements to the community if they belong to an HOA, and whether they are aware of any looming special assessments. This is another piece of information you may have to coax out of the seller, as it directly affects if the house is affordable to you.
Choosing the right home can be an emotional and time-intensive process. Add to that having to decipher mischaracterizations or even outright lies, and it can seem like a massive challenge. That’s why it pays to hire a Realtor who you can trust to be honest with you and uncover any issues with a property.
Dante Disabato ’s experience in the Southwest Florida area has given him the wisdom to sniff out a sketchy seller or property before you even think of putting in an offer. Contact us today at 239.537.5351 or through our online form and learn why we’ve made Naples our home – and why, with the right dream property, you should too.