Are you worried about hidden problems that a seller may try to conceal from you?
It’s easy for home buyers to fall madly in love while they’re considering houses. Going through open houses and showings, exciting features end up getting all of the focus. Yet, these dream houses may be risky if the homeowner did not disclose any significant issues.
Imagine you finally found a home that meets your wants, needs, and budget. So is it time to make an offer?
That perfect home can turn into a nightmare if the seller didn’t reveal all the problems. If you fail to spot these problems until after closing, you are looking at a lawsuit or paying for repairs!
Ignoring any of these problems could be a financial catastrophe.
Just because you think a property is gorgeous or a great price doesn’t mean you can ignore reality!
Home sellers can try to hide past, present and future problems. Especially if they’re wanting to get more money or make a quick sale.
It can be difficult for house buyers to perform their due diligence. There are lots of things to look at and they’re not always obvious.
It can be difficult if the sellers are attempting to cover up any problems with the property. Making an informed decision can be a quick and simple process after reading this article!
Here are a few issues sellers frequently make an effort to conceal when selling a home:
Damage from water is usually one of the costliest problems houses can have. Water leaks are quite commonplace but it doesn’t mean you should ignore them. Potential buyers must look for damage from water while looking at every home.
Water stains aren’t simply unsightly. They are also indications of leaks and can create the perfect environment for mold. Plus they’re easy for house owners to cover up!
Some shady home sellers attempt to hide water damage with a stack of moving boxes or suitcases. You can always request the seller to move what is blocking your view. You should take a flashlight with you when you look at homes.
One other method for covering water damage and mold is a coat of fresh paint. Fresh paint may not be a warning sign that the home seller is attempting to conceal a water problem. Just be aware that is is a commonly used method to hide issues.
It’s the sellers’ duty to give full disclosure when they know their property is in a flood zone. Some sellers could be unaware of this fact!
This is why home buyers must check if a home is in a flood zone by using the maps at fema.gov. The seller could lower the price to the point that it may be worth the risk for some buyers.
However, you have to remember that you must pay for extra insurance coverage!
The good news is that home sellers in South Carolina are supposed to disclose that home is in a flood zone.
The key thing to remember is they are supposed to…
A property that seems wonderful could have rotten wood or termite damage in the walls. Rotting or otherwise damaged wood can lead to a lot of money spent for repairs. Rotting wood and harmful termites should not be ignored.
Whether it’s the decks or the floors, home buyers must be aware of the possibility of rotten wood. This is why a buyer should always get a termite inspection!
If the seller knows the roof leaks during every heavy rain, should they disclose that information?
Leaky roofs are one of the biggest problems home sellers attempt to hide!
The roof isn’t the first thing that buyers think about. But they are an important part of every home, just like the foundation! Damaged or aged roofing can be expensive to repair or replace.
Home buyers need to remember that the bones of the home are the most important features. The bones of a home are the roof, walls, and foundation.
Codes and Other Regulations
Building codes can be confusing. You need to make sure the home does not break any rules or regulations.
Something else to consider is if there is an HOA. What are the restrictions and covenants?
Sometimes these rules can be quite restrictive so you must find out about the HOA before making an offer!
Age of the Home’s Mechanical Systems
Many sellers try to hide the age of water heaters and HVAC systems with 3 simple words: “I don’t know.”
Your home inspector can find out that information very quickly. When in doubt, ask your inspector to look into it.
Normally, sellers have got a good idea of the age and condition of the HVAC and water heater. Revealing that information might discourage interested home buyers. This is why some sellers try to hide the age of the HVAC system.
If the heating and air conditioning system is on it’s last leg, home buyers may be facing a big bill soon!
The inspector can tell you how old they are but only the seller knows if they have been well maintained. You can do a quick check to see if the filters or coils are dirty for a clue.
Request to see the owner’s manuals and warranty paperwork. Also, you need to make sure your home inspector checks each system to make certain they’re in good working order.
The Property Disclosure
You should not assume that home sellers are trying to hide anything! Just remember that it’s not unusual for them to downplay some of their home’s flaws.
All sellers in South Carolina are supposed to sign a disclosure document about their property so buyers know what they’re getting into. It can be very tempting for some sellers to tell white lies or conveniently forget information.
Did you know that quite a few real estate lawsuits come from sellers misrepresenting their property? There was even a case in Anderson where a seller failed to disclose something and lost in a big lawsuit.
If you are selling a home, always disclose. When in doubt, disclose!
If you are buying a home and have questions, always ask!
Home buyers need to read the property disclosure for important information. The property disclosure doesn’t just tell you about the home’s condition.
It also gives you clues about the seller’s transparency about any problems. If the disclosure only has the minimum information, it is a clue the seller could be hiding problems.
Don’t expect the average homeowner to know everything about the home. And you can’t expect them to know anything about the time before they owned the home.
However, they should be very open and honest about any issues they have experienced and any repairs they have made.
You do not want a home with foundation problems! They are very costly to repair and potentially dangerous.
Look for cabinets and doors that are hard to close, cracks in the walls, or windows that are hard or impossible to open and close. Another clue is if you feel as though you’re walking up or down as you move through the home.
Foundation problems are a serious issue that some sneaky home sellers try to hide. This means it is up to you to be aware and looking for any issues with the foundation!
Crime and Sex Offenders
You probably think you can ask the real estate agent about the neighborhood. But because of Fair Housing Laws, legally they cannot do more than tell you to contact the local police and to check the Sex Offender Registry.
Looking at the Sex Offender Registry is the home buyer’s responsibility. ALWAYS check out the National Sex Offender Registry to avoid any problems.
Check out the neighborhood at different times and on different days to see what it is really like.
Property Lines, Easements, Restrictions, Zoning
While the seller should disclose any issues, you need to be aware that sometimes they don’t know or they are wrong. Often sellers were told by the previous owners something that isn’t true.
Especially about the property lines and easements. Or shared driveways. Always get a survey and check county records to confirm will meet your intended use.
The Take Away:
Most home sellers are honest and don’t try to hide problems. Sometimes they are not even aware of any issues. But it is up to the buyer to read the disclosure and to get a professional home inspection!
I hope after reading this article, you know a little more about some of the most common issues that sellers try to hide! As always, if you have any questions about buying or selling real estate in the Anderson SC area, please contact me!