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Home Inspection Red Flags

  • April 4, 2016
  • Blog
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Home inspections are helpful for home buyers who hope their dream home has no major flaws.

A house is like a car: It needs ongoing maintenance, and some parts have a limited life span. Inspectors often point out minor issues you should be aware of, but buyers and inspectors should especially look out for red-flag problems.

Below are a few things to look for to help you decide if you’ve found your dream home:

Plumbing: Because plumbing is installed within the walls of a house, faulty pipes can lead to larger issues such as flooding. Home buyers should especially look out for polybutylene pipes, which are no longer installed in homes because they leak and cause property damage.

If the inspector finds polybutylene pipes, pay attention to the advice and plan on replacing them as soon as possible.

Home flipping: If the home you’re considering was recently flipped, make sure corners weren’t cut. Although sellers can’t legally hide known defects, a home inspection may uncover issues not in the seller’s paperwork and even problems the sellers may not know exist.

Electrical systems: Pay attention to the inspector on electrical issues — except for one, reverse polarity. Reverse polarity is a common issue, but is simple and inexpensive to fix.

Modern two-prong electrical plugs have one prong that is larger than the other so that it receives positive electricity from one side and negative electricity on the other. In reverse polarity, the home inspector may find that some of the outlets have wires swapped. After you move in, if you have an electrician replace a chandelier or install a ceiling fan, ask them take care of the outlets then.

Window condition: Windows should keep dampness out, help keep heat and air conditioning in, and their condition can have a significant impact on utility costs.

Foggy windows can be a sign their seal has broken and that they’re not functioning properly. In some cases, this is easy to repair. In others, you may need to replace windows or sliding doors.

Big-ticket items: The biggest red flag is reserved for big-ticket items. If the HVAC system is 20 years old, it’s beyond its useful life and will need replacement soon. If the roof is so old that the shingles are curling, you’re getting close to replacement. And if there is mold growing in the house, you will need to address that for the occupants’ health.

If the home inspector finds red flags, your real estate agent can help renegotiate to find a solution. Some sellers want to repair the issues, but smart buyers ask for money from the seller to take care of the repairs themselves.

Most of the time, these issues can be fixed, so don’t overreact.

For information on buying or selling in Santa Barbara, contact Real Estate Expert Karen Spechler.

By Jon Coile, Washington Post

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