The Open House
Every Sunday in communities across the country, you’ll find real estate agents hosting open houses for homes they’re listing. While some people attend these 2-hour events to get decorating ideas, and agents use them to network and make contact with potential buyers, open houses are also an excellent way for house hunters to get a low-pressure look at a property, ask questions, and suss out its suitability.
Sellers typically go to great lengths to spruce up the place before an open house and, in some cases, they’ll endeavor to hide issues a home—particularly an older home—may have that can prevent its sale. The next time you’re at an open house, keep your eyes open for these seemingly minor house characteristics that might indicate the sellers are hiding something, or there’s trouble down the road for the new owner.
If the yard meets (or is near) the siding, the house is at risk for termites.
When first approaching a home, take a look at the distance between the bottom lap of a house’s wood siding and the soil. Anything less than 6 inches puts the home at risk of a termite infestation. These subterranean wood-munchers look for the shortest routes to enter the house and start dining on its structural members. In all cases, the soil should never be piled up against the siding.
If there’s no railing on the steps, the house may not qualify for a mortgage.
Some non-conventional mortgages, including FHA, VA, and RD, require a home to meet specific conditions and safety requirements before a mortgage can be approved. This doesn’t mean you can’t purchase the house, but if there’s no railing on the steps, one will likely have to be installed before the sale closes.
Other mortgage requirements may include no peeling paint and a roof that’s in good condition. If you will be applying for one of the above mortgages, it’s a good idea to get a list of property requirements from your lender before you attend an open house.
Trees growing near the house increase the risk of sewer problems.
Trees are an essential part of the landscaping, and if you’re looking at homes in older neighborhoods, odds are you’ll encounter tall, towering trees. Unfortunately, several popular tree species, including oak, maple, birch, and sycamore, all send out invasive roots that can work their way into sewer and drain lines, resulting in blocked drainage and expensive sewer line clearing repairs.
To get an idea where a sewer line runs, look for a cleanout pipe near the foundation. Typically, the line will run directly from there to the municipality’s sewer main. If the home made your short list and you’d like to pursue it, it may be worth checking with the local Zoning Office to see if there are utility maps that indicate the location of sewer lines. Without that knowledge, it’s usually a safe bet for trees to be a minimum of 10 feet away from any buried drain line. Twenty feet away is even better, because many tree roots don’t extend that far.
If the yard slopes downward to the foundation, it creates a risk of leaks.
Water and foundations don’t mix. Building codes often require a 2 percent minimum yard slope away from the foundation to keep rain or sprinkler water from draining downward along the foundation walls. An inverted yard slope can usually be remedied by hauling soil and raising the grade next to the foundation. However, water may have already leaked through the foundation and caused water damage, resulting in leaks in the basement and the presence of mold or mildew.
Click on the source link below for more “buyer beware” situations.
Article by Glenda Taylor for BobVila©