Picture this. You are finally settling into your new home after successfully purchasing a house without a realtor. You didn’t think you needed one because, after all, the place was perfect for you, and it ticked all your checkboxes.
Unfortunately, two months into your stay, the air conditioning system stops functioning, and your repair company informs you that it’s past its life expectancy. You have to replace it. You remember you didn’t inspect the air conditioning system when buying the house because you thought it was working fine.
If you had consulted a realtor, they would know the importance of inspecting the status of an air conditioning system before closing the deal. They would have negotiated for the cost of A/C replacement to be deducted from the house’s listing price.
In any given year, about 10 to 20 percent of Americans consider buying a house without a realtor. It isn’t always the best choice, but when done right, it can yield excellent results and save you money on realtor fees.
If you’re considering taking this route, here are seven crucial things that you must inspect before settling on a house.
1. General Status of the Home
It’s a no brainer that you’ll need to check the whole home and ensure that everything is working in order, but you need to know what to look out for and where to look. A simple walk around the house won’t tell you of any potential problems likely to occur once you move in. You should hire a professional home inspector to examine the home for you comprehensively.
A professional home inspection will reveal any issues with the roof, foundation, electrical system, plumbing, air conditioning, ducted gas heating, and everything else important in making a house a home. You want to make sure that your new home will be functional and as comfortable as possible when you move in.
Some of the general things you’ll need to ensure your inspector checks out include:
- Worn out roof
- Cracked walls and foundation
- Window and door issues
- Structural issues with a deck
- Wood Rot
- A heating and air conditioning system past its life expectancy
- Faulty electrical wiring
- Piping leakages
- Clogged sewer systems
It’s important to note that if the seller is advertising the home “as is,” you’ll need to be extra careful with the home inspection done. In most cases, properties sold “as is” have many concealed problems.
2. Find Mold
Make sure you look out for mold and dampness throughout the house, especially in the basement, bathrooms, and anywhere else there’s likely to be a high moisture concentration. Mold is a big concern for many buyers, and it should be yours too. However, there are many different types of mold, and not all of them pose health issues.
Your home inspector will advise you on whether the identified mold is easy to fix or not. The current homeowner can take care of the mold removal cost or deduct it from your house purchase price. You can then hire a professional mold removal company to fix the problem.
3. Test for Radon Gas When Buying a House Without a Realtor
It’s easy to miss this test if you don’t know about it. Radon is a radioactive material present in the soil below and around a home. If it’s highly concentrated, it can pose a health hazard to you and your family.
Radon gas concentrations vary from one region to another, with some states like North Dakota and Iowa having the highest percentages in the U.S. It’s the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers and is responsible for around 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year. Radon is dangerous when trapped within a home for an extended period.
A radon inspection will let you know if the gas levels in the home are above 4pCi/L so that you can take corrective measures to reduce them. Many companies specialize in radon mitigation and charge around $1,000 to $1,500 in most states.
4. Check for Pests and Insects
If you’re not a fan of crawling insects at all, don’t miss this step. Some homes, particularly older ones, have a severe pest or insect infestation that can drive you crazy. You need to know of such a problem beforehand so that you can determine if it’s controllable.
For example, termites can cause massive damage to your home’s foundation if not addressed or left unnoticed for a long time. Rodents such as mice in your attic and air ducts can affect the air quality in your house. Without a home inspection, you won’t notice these pests until you have moved in.
5. Presence of Lead Paint
Lead paint is typically a problem with old homes. Although the paint doesn’t pose a threat unless you consume it, federal law requires that the current homeowner informs you of its presence. If you’re planning on having children in the house, it’s crucial to know of such a fact.
However, even if the current homeowner doesn’t inform you about it, your home inspector will check for it and let you know. And if they don’t, you should ask.
6. Septic and Drainage Systems
Drainage is one of the most vital things that you have to make sure are working correctly before committing to buy a house. Fixing or replacing such a system is costly and can set you back several hundred thousand dollars.
Inquire from your home inspector if the septic system is running fine and whether it has the capacity for the number of rooms it is rated for.
7. Asbestos and Other Toxic Materials
Asbestos is also a dangerous material like lead and radon gas. It was commonly used in older homes for insulation. However, when tampered with – like when contractors are moving around the attic fixing or installing new insulation – its fibers can be inhaled and stick on the lungs, causing cancer many years later.
It’s essential that you know of the presence of such material within your home, even though it doesn’t pose a danger unless disturbed. Other toxic substances may also be present in your home, and your home inspector should be on the lookout for any red flags that could be of concern to you.
Home Inspection Should Not Be a Choice
If you want peace and comfort when you settle in your new home, understanding its current state is imperative. Even if you’re confident in buying a house without a realtor, having the house inspected thoroughly by a professional shouldn’t be a choice!
Check out more of our home purchase tips to avoid making a mistake with such a huge investment decision!