Unless your desired home is brand, sparkling new, it may have certain issues that need to be settled before you can close on the deal. Some issues are easy to resolve, but others just may be a deal breaker.
1. An old roof. The roof may look good, but your inspector says that it has one, maybe two years left before it must be replaced. Worse, there is already a layer of shingles underneath and that means that all shingles will have to be removed. The cost will start at around $5,000 and push up to $10,000 and beyond for larger roofs. If the homeowners doesn’t bend on the price, this is a repair you’ll have to carry out soon after you buy the house.
2. A buried oil tank. In some states a home with a buried oil tank cannot be sold without being removed. Its environmental concern that might cause the remaining oil to leak into the ground and pollute the surrounding area. If you thought that replacing a roof was expensive, then just wait: removing an oil tank can set you back by several times the cost of replacing a roof.
3. HVAC concerns. No air-conditioning? That’s no problem if you live where summer temperatures rarely swelter. But, it is a problem if heat waves routinely occur from May through September and the HVAC is broken or absent. A new system can cost from $5,000, but just wait: it will cost more if duct work needs to be run. This deal might need to be renegotiated if the HVAC system is working, but old, and is not likely to make it through the next heat wave or next winter’s cold snap.
4. Plumbing problems. Leaking pipes can be mended, but what if the water pressure is weak? How do you fix that problem? You may also discover that the homeowner’s plumbing work is not up to code, requiring that a plumber come out and refit some pipes, run a new line and, worst of all, dig up the front yard to reconnect to the street. A serious plumbing problem can rival the cost of removing an oil tank.
5. Windows and doors are old. The house is immaculate, but it was built in the 1970s when heating and cooling standards were not as stringent as they are today. The roof is new and the HVAC system is in very good shape. Nothing else looks out of sorts until you expect the windows and doors. Single pane windows won’t keep out the cold or keep in the heat. Your summer bills may be manageable, but old windows can translate into big heating bills beginning in November and running through April. Figure that you’ll pay at least $150 for each new Energy Star window and upwards of $1,000 for each energy efficient door.
There are other deal breakers you can catch before you put a bid in on a home. If the local schools stink, then move on. You don’t need to have kids to know that good schools rule and the entire community thrives or suffers. Easement issues, odd neighbors, nearby electrical lines and a towering water tower can also scuttle the deal.
See Also — Making the Offer to Buy a Home
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