So if you’re lucky enough to find an affordable house you like, you may feel the pressure to make an offer right away.
Not so fast.
Before you put down that deposit, don’t forget to carefully inspect the home—even if it appears to be in good condition. “Looks can be deceiving,” says Leslie Piper, a consumer housing specialist for Realtor.com.
Of course, there are some flaws you can ignore, like outdated appliances and misguided paint choices. But there are others that might be true deal breakers. And if you overlook the wrong ones, your new home can quickly become a money pit, says Ilyce Glink, a real estate expert and author of “100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask.”
Our experts divulge the six most common home-buying deal breakers worth double-checking before you make a bid—plus what to do if something is indeed amiss.
Deal Breaker #1: The Roof
Well-maintained roofs can last 30 years or more—but a shoddy installation or poor-quality shingles and tiles can mean needing to replace a roof much sooner.
So ask the seller how old the roof is, and inspect the gutters to make sure the drainage systems are in good working order. You also want to be on the lookout for dry rot—often caused by poor ventilation—which can cause sagging and crumbling.
You may be able to see from the ground whether there are cracked or missing shingles. But it pays to get a roofer to do an inspection, either before you make the offer or during the contract phase of the negotiations.
If the seller has already done a home inspection prior to putting the house on the market, ask to review it. Some states also require disclosure forms, mandating that the seller be up-front about any issues with the home. A qualified real estate agent can guide you through the process, providing specific advice for your area.
What it could cost you: If you do have to replace the roof, it can set you back—a lot. According to Piper, a new roof can run anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000, depending on the size of the home.
What to do about it: Just because a roof is old isn’t typically grounds for asking the seller to lower the price. But you may have room to negotiate if the roof hasn’t been maintained, and if repairs are necessary to fix evident leaks or other major issues.
More often than not, however, you’ll be responsible for replacing or repairing the roof. So factor this cost into your overall housing budget.