Keep eyes wide open when buying that "perfect" home.
There are red flags you should never ignore when buying a house – and questions you should always ask. Buying a new home can be overwhelming, partly because for most of us it’s as much an emotional purchase as a financial transaction.
With so much information overload during a viewing – especially if you have fallen in love with a home – it is possible to miss important details.
Sandy Geffen, executive director of Sotheby’s International Realty South Africa, has tips to avoid buyer’s remorse:
1 Foundations and structural faults: The foundation is arguably the most important part of the entire structure and very costly to repair. Although minor cracking may be a sign of settling, large cracks can indicate serious structural problems. How to check: Go into the basement if there is one. Or check the door frames. If door frames don’t appear to be square or the doors seem to have difficulty closing, it’s possible that the home has structural problems.
2 Poor drainage and gradient: Most water problems in a home are directly related to poor drainage or gradient, but it’s not always easily detected. How to check: The most obvious sign is pooling water, but another is a bouncy bathroom floor that can be evidence of a leaking shower drain. If the yard has mini-lakes or continually muddy patches, it quite likely has poor drainage. Other signs of poor drainage can include overflowing gutters, water stains on basement walls, and cracks in the foundation. Look out for black mould or brown patches on ceilings where water may have pooled.
3 Damp: This is another problem with water. How to check: Random patches of fresh paint. Paint is one of the quickest and most effective ways to spruce up a home. If only portions of walls or ceilings appear to be painted, don’t ignore it – the seller may be trying to cover up a problem.
4 Electrical wiring: House fires caused by faulty electrical wiring are not uncommon, especially in older homes, which don’t have the ample supply of power and number of electrical outlets of more modern homes. How to check: Are there extension cords running from room to room? These place a burden on the electrical system, outlets and cords and could lead to a fire. Another common electrical problem is exposed electrical wires, often the result of DIY repairs. Any exposed wire is susceptible to damage. This is high priority and should be corrected by a licensed electrician.
5 Poor overall neighbourhood condition: When you are buying a home, you aren’t only buying the specific erf, you are also investing in the neighbourhood. Buying a home in a suburb that is deteriorating or has increasing criminal activity can be a costly mistake and will significantly diminish return on investment. How to check: You should look for signs such as boarded up properties and a high number of vacant homes or shops in the area.