Think back to your first big crush. He or she was perfect, right? When emotions run rampant, flaws become invisible, whether you’re falling in love with a person or a home.
With familiarity comes the truth ― this perfect specimen of a human being isn’t perfect. None of us are. And houses aren’t either for that matter. The term “rose colored glasses” was invented for this situation exactly. Take them off and the reality of the situation is presented in all its Technicolor glory, flaws and all.
Let’s take a look at some items you may miss if you’re in love with a house and that love is blinding you to its flaws.
1. Evidence of Shoddy Maintenance
Americans are busy people. When we aren’t working, we’re trying to pack as much as possible into our leisure hours. So it’s only natural that some home maintenance chores don’t get done.
Now, take off the glasses and realize that perhaps the homeowner is lazy or lacks the funds to maintain the home. If you notice debris overflowing in the gutters, duct tape and bubble gum plugging a leaking pipe or fur peeking out of an air-conditioning duct vent what else has the homeowner neglected?
It’s known as “deferred maintenance,” and here are a few things to look for:
- Soft spots in the flooring around bath tubs and toilets
- Stains on the ceiling, especially below a second-story bathroom
- Signs of wear on the roof (missing or cupped shingles, for instance)
- Torn or bent window screens
This list is in no way extensive, but it gives you an idea of how even small tell-tale signs can give you a hint of how little home maintenance has been performed.
2. Suspected Foundation Problems
Check the slope of the yard. If it slopes downward, toward the house there may be a problem with water intruding into the home or foundation when it rains. Reversing the grade is a costly project. But remember: the damage may already be done. Hire an engineer to check the foundation for problems.
Cracks in the foundation don’t necessarily signify problems. If they measure more than 1/3-inch or they are jagged, however, consider having the foundation inspected.
Foundation repair is one of the most costly home repair jobs and may run between five and ten thousand dollars. The average cost, nationwide, is $3,740, according to HomeAdvisor.
3. A Dying Neighborhood
If your rose-colored glasses contain blinders you’ll need to remove them. The neighborhood in which the home is located is important to the home’s future value as well as to your enjoyment of the home.
If three or more homes on the street display for-sale signs, it might just be your first indication of a dying neighborhood. Sure, there are any number of reasons that several neighbors all decided to sell at the same time, but you must also consider that they are fleeing something.
What may be discovered with careful research can save you from making a costly mistake. For instance, home values may as much as 16 percent and spend significantly longer on the market when registered sex offenders move into a neighborhood.
While the above conditions need not rule out a house from your wish list, they do merit additional research. Don’t let your emotions blind you to what may turn out to be harsh realities. As always, I'm happy to help keep the blinders from allowing you to buy a home that you may regret later.