It is so easy to get caught up in the excitement of buying your first home. I know my husband and I did. We really thought we were prepared and had done our homework. The longer we have lived in our home, the more I realize we did not have a clue. No matter how great my checklist was, it did not help us discover problems we would have to tackle later on. Here is a list of items that should be a deterrent when buying your first home. These problems are not as extreme as cracks in the foundation or termite infestations. However, as a first time home buyer you should reconsider purchasing any home that has one or more of these problems.
1. Window Screens are Broken or Missing
This may seem like an odd item, but stay with me. When we moved into our home, we discovered that the screen doors for both our sliding glass doors were missing. Not only that, but the window screens for several of our windows were gone or broken.
Why is this a problem? Window screens are not easy to replace. The windows on your home are pretty specific in size and shape to your home model. You can’t just walk into a home improvement store and buy new ones. Usually you have to have someone come out, measure and build them for you and that is not cheap. Even if you can find replacements screens like we did for our sliding glass doors, they often do not fit well. You should be wary if the home you are interested in has missing window screens.
2. Window and Door Sills Are Dirty
When we first looked at our home it looked pretty clean. It was a foreclosure with fresh paint and carpet, so it was far better than many other homes we looked at. Although on the surface our home was pretty clean, the window and door sills told a different story. I spent a good chunk of time cleaning our window and door sills. At one point I took a flat head screwdriver to dig the dirt and dog hair out of the sliding glass door tracks. Gross, right? This was a sure sign our home had not been cared for properly by the previous owner. Homes that are not cared for need far more work in the long run.
3. The paint job is cheap
Fresh paint is one of the easiest ways to freshen up a home so a poor paint job can be easily overlooked. We were thrilled that our home had been freshly painted a neutral color right before we bought it. When you buy a foreclosure, banks often go in and spruce up the place, but they like to do so cheaply. A cheap paint job can be a real headache to deal with and force you to repaint faster than you planned.
Here are 4 signs your home has been cheaply painted.
The ceilings and the walls are painted the same color
They used flat wall paint. This type of paint is a pain to clean. Semi gloss or eggshell are best.
There are small paint drips on light fixtures, floors, cabinets and windows.
Paint is a little thin. If the paint was not applied thickly and you look around, you will probably be able to see through some spots.
4. The carpet is cheap and the seams show
Here was another sign we should have seen. We were so happy our home had new carpet that we didn’t realize the carpet was cheap and poorly laid. Carpet is not made to last like it used to and cheap carpet is even worse. It didn’t take long for our carpet to show it was cheap.
Another sign was our carpet seams. Anyone who is good at laying carpet will not have seams that show. Our carpet has several major seams showing and we missed it. It was a clear sign the bank hired cheap labor to cover up blemishes in our home.
5. The construction is shoddy
We were thrilled when our home inspector told us that our home had “good bones”. We assumed it meant our home was well built. Unfortunately, our home was built during one of the many housing booms in our area. What he probably meant was it won’t fall down, but it could use some work. The longer we are here, the more I see what he means. We have several spots where the construction was clearly shoddy at best. Check out the crooked light switch that I stare at every time I work at my computer.
When you are looking for a home, try to look past a basic viewing of it. Really take your time and look at walls, doors, windows, and yes even light switches. I might even suggest bringing a screw driver and taking a light switch or outlet face plate off. If the outlet holes are cut poorly, you can assume the rest of the home may be poorly put together too. I have one friend who realized after purchasing a home and removing an outlet cover that her home may have had undisclosed fire damage. Yikes!
6. There is countertop or cabinet damage
Our home inspector did point out to us that there was some minor cabinet and countertop damage in our home. We really thought it wasn’t a big deal. While we were able to cover most of it up, it doesn’t look that great. Even if your home is not that old, it is really tricky to find repair or replacement parts for cabinets and countertops. I recommend thoroughly checking all cabinets and countertops for damage before you place an offer on a home. Otherwise you may be looking at a full renovation of kitchen and bathroom areas sooner than you planned.
7. There are no closet lights or ceiling fans and there is no wiring for it.
While you don’t need to have ceiling fans in every room of your home, you should have the capability to put one in if you want. This is really important in larger rooms of your home. We had to add one to the living room of our home and it wasn’t cheap. If the room is already wired for it, it makes it much easier and cheaper. We also don’t have lights in the closets in our guest rooms. While this is not essential to have, it is very helpful and not to cheap to add later on.
8. There are no outside lights or outlets
I never even thought to look for this when we bought our home, but it is really hard to do yard work or plug in Christmas lights without outlets outside. The front side of our home has no outlets, can you believe that? It also doesn’t have outdoor lights by the garage and the longer we live here, the more these two things bother me. I know they won’t be cheap additions either. So save yourself the headache and find a home that has them.
Buying a home is not for the faint of heart. Before you even begin your search, do your homework and tons of research. Be sure you have a realistic understanding of the costs of home buying, a great realtor, a great bank, a good home buying checklist and most importantly take your time. If you have any reluctance, wait and do more research or you could be stuck in a nightmare money pit. If you are just getting started looking for a home check out the HUD website for information
Once you have checked all these items off your lists, be sure you have found the best location for your new home!