If you want to relocate within the next few months, 2021 might be the perfect opportunity to do so. This year, the real estate market is especially advantageous to those looking to sell their homes. High demand and limited housing inventory are driving up home values.
In the U.S., prices have gone up 8.4% over the past year and will likely continue to rise or stay the same throughout 2021.
Meanwhile, low mortgage rates continue to work in the buyer’s favor, especially those who have built equity in their current abode. However, jumping to sell your house and buy another also comes with a fair amount of risk, especially if you don’t get a home inspection. In their mad rush to sell, many homeowners are sweeping major issues under the rug.
So, unless you want to end up with the following problems — and thousands of dollars’ worth of repairs — it may be wise to pump the brakes and hire an inspector.
If you’ve lived in your home for a number of years, you’ve probably dealt with a few pests. From rats to ants, you know how difficult and expensive it can be to expel them from your home. Well, the odds are good you’re not the only one fighting off bugs and rodents.
Depending on where your dream home is located, you might have to battle an even wider array of pests — ones the current homeowners know how to hide. In this case, it may be impossible to detect an infestation through photos or a walk-through.
Therefore, it’s crucial that you hire an inspector to determine whether or not there’s a problem.
Mold and Mildew
About 70% of homes currently have mold. Sure, you’ll probably find some of it growing on old food in the fridge. However, many homeowners also deal with mold growth in places like the bathroom, laundry room, and kitchen. Some even battle mold around windows and doors, where drafts can cause condensation and moisture buildup.
Mold can discolor walls and release spores that agitate the respiratory system. However, you might be too starstruck by crown molding to notice mold in your dream home. Therefore, it’s best to conduct a home inspection to ensure there aren’t any major mold growths that can’t be easily removed.
A home inspector will also run tests on the water systems to ensure there aren’t any leaks when water is flowing through the pipes. Plus, they’ll check the fridge, dishwasher, oven, and toilets to ensure basic functionality and performance. If any water damage is present, the inspector will likely find it during their walk-through.
Leaks in and around the roof can also cause extensive water damage, leaving the average homeowner with about $1,000 to $5,000 in repairs. Yet, many homeowners know how to hide stains, spots, and cracks that might allude to damage, which could trick you into thinking the home is waterproof.
Luckily, inspectors will know what to look for so you aren’t blindsided by unexpected costs.
Today’s buyers are all about energy efficiency. However, most forget that a lack of insulation in the attic, garage, and sunroom can reduce efficiency, especially if they share a wall with the house.
For instance, the garage door occupies 40% of the home’s exterior. If it doesn't feature insulation, cold or warm air could seep into your home. An inspector can tell you if you need to add more insulation to these areas.
The HVAC system also plays an integral part in conserving energy and lowering utility bills. Most systems only last 12 to 20 years, depending on the indoor and outdoor environment.
Therefore, if you’re interested in an older home, you might want an inspector to check out the HVAC unit. Otherwise, you may have to spend a few thousand dollars to replace it just months after moving in.
Unless you’re an electrician, you probably won’t be able to determine if a home has electrical issues during an open house. Besides, that ugly breaker box is probably the last thing on your mind, and you should probably let an inspector take a peek at it anyway.
Electrical failure and malfunction cause roughly 440 deaths and 1,250 injuries each year. Half of these occurrences were due to poor electrical distribution, lighting, and power transfer equipment. This elevated risk of fire, injury, and death puts the pressure on you, the homebuyer, to hire an inspector. It’s a small price to pay for peace of mind.
Inspectors can also diagnose the current condition of the home itself by studying its structural integrity. While foundations are meant to stay in one place, soil erosion can cause minor shifts that create cracks in the foundation. These fissures will only expand over time as the home settles.
Luckily, an inspector will know where to look for these cracks, as well as slanted floors, gaps, around windows, and other symptoms of poor structural integrity. If they find evidence of extreme structural distress, it may be best to take your home search elsewhere unless you have a few thousand dollars to fix it.
If you love outdoor spaces, that home with a sunroom addition might be calling your name. However, if the previous owners completed the work without a permit, you might run into legal trouble.
For instance, if the remodel was done incorrectly and isn’t up to code, something could go wrong and cause damage or injury. If you don’t have proof of a permit, your homeowner’s insurance might not cover these situations.
Some cities might also require you to tear out or demolish the addition at your expense. Others will send you a hefty bill for fines and penalties for failure to obtain a permit, even though you didn’t make the renovations. These fees could be triple or quadruple the cost of the permit.
Get a New Home for Less
An inspection may cost you a few hundred dollars and add an extra step to your search for the perfect home. However, hiring a professional is often worth the time and money. If they don’t find anything wrong with your dream home, at least you’ll have some peace of mind and know that the listing price is fair.
On the other hand, If they do discover a few issues, you may be able to negotiate the price and get your new home for less. Of course, you’ll still have to make some renovations. However, you may be able to DIY some solutions and find a few discounts so you aren’t shelling out so much cash.
If the seller is unwilling to cut the price, it’s time to either move on or hope for better luck next year.