6 Things to Look for Before Buying a New Home

Written by | Updated August 8, 2017

This post was written for SafeWise by Emily Walsh from the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.

So you’re ready to buy your first home. Whether it’s a newer home or an older one, or whether you’re relocating or done renting, there are a number of factors to keep in mind during the buying process. Nothing would be worse than finding a comfortable deal and moving into your new home only to find underlying problems that cost you more than its worth.

When looking for your potential future home, remember to keep these six red flags in mind.

  1. 1. Structural or Foundation Issues

  2. Foundation slabs can become uneven and cracked over time. Foundation issues can happen to any home, but since they usually take a good amount of time, these problems occur more frequently in older homes.

    Although foundation problems are rarer to come across, it’s essential to have the home you are looking at inspected for any foundation problems. When on your home tour, it is important to keep an eye out for any noticeable cracks in doors and walls. Another sign of foundation issues would be any uneven floors or windows and doors that jam too easily.

    Buying a home that you didn’t know has structural damage could cause anywhere from $800 to somewhere upward of $6,000 dollars after moving in.1 The failure to get this problem fixed can result in moisture damage and dry rot, which can destroy your home.

  3. 2. Asbestos

  4. Asbestos is a material commonly found in homes built before the 1980s. It was used for its fire-resistant properties as insulation in walls and pipes. When properly enclosed, it’s not a harm to the residents of a home. However, if asbestos becomes crumbly or exposed, it is an extreme health hazard. Diseases like asbestosis and mesothelioma are directly related to asbestos exposure.

    When looking at a home, it’s important to know about any potential asbestos. Even if it is not a current problem, it can become a huge one down the road for your family’s health. It is relatively cheap to get asbestos inspected to see if it is dangerous to the home, but it can cost up to $2,000 to be removed.2

  5. 3. Home Security

  6. Safety can be one of the most important things to consider when looking for a new home. Many homeowners have families and loved ones, along with valuable possessions, so considering a burglary occurs every 20 seconds in the United States,3 it’s necessary to secure your home.

    When looking at homes, make sure to ask if the home has a security system installed. If not, don’t worry. There are many home security systems to choose from, some inexpensive and all able to help keep your family safe.

  7. 4. Fire Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

  8. You should double check and make sure the smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are properly installed, working, and up to date before buying a house. These are signs of a well-running home, and each product helps ensure you and your family’s safety.

  9. 5. Dysfunctional Windows

  10. Window issues are often overlooked when checking out potential homes. Some major issues to keep in mind when looking at houses are drafts, security problems, and foggy glass.

    Drafty windows can reveal a problem in the window frames and can let in cold air during the winter, which means pumping more money into your heating bill. Test all the locks on the windows to make sure they are not broken and double check the strength of the frames, as either of these can lead to security breaches if you are not aware. Lastly, foggy glass can mean the window’s insulation seal was broken and needs to be replaced.

    All these weaknesses can potentially cause annoying repair fees if not replaced or addressed before you move in.

  11. 6. Electrical and Wiring Issues

  12. A major red flag people forget to check out is the electrical wiring of a potential home. It’s an easy thing to miss since you won’t see most of the wires during the house tour. But don’t let the pretty exterior distract you from the issues bad wiring can cause. If wiring isn’t taken care of, an electrical fire can occur, resulting in severe damage to your home and property.

    During your house tours, ask about the age of the electrical system and the type of wires used. Most wires are durable enough to last almost a century; however, if they become frayed, they should be replaced immediately. Common signs of poor wiring include tripping circuit breakers, electrical shocks, popping noises, and loose connections, but not all are so obvious. Before purchasing a home, it’s worth paying for an inspection of the house’s electrical system.

Buying a new home is an exciting experience, and it should stay that way after you move in. Use these six tips to make sure you and your family can build and maintain a safe, happy, and secure home. If you want even more tips for maintaining your home’s security once you’ve purchased it, check out SafeWise’s “Ten Simple Ways to Secure Your New Home.”

1. Foundation Repair Network, “Average Foundation Repair Costs and Variables
2. Improvement Net, “Asbestos Testing and Removal Costs
3. FBI: UCR 2015 Crime in the United States, “2015 Crime Clock Statistics

Written by Emily Walsh

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