EDITOR’S NOTE: Based on the skyrocketing mortgage rates alone, right now may not be the best time to buy a house. But according to real estate experts, there are more red flags to buying a home than expensive borrowing costs. To give you an anecdote, there’s a house across the street that’s selling for a relatively high price equivalent to others on the block. Despite its attractive staging, any real estate agent would have detected the poor condition of the home, including its roof and foundation, beneath its makeover. The quality isn’t there, and those selling it are apparently desperate to get rid of a home that may cost new buyers more in home repair after the sale. There are a lot of similar homes popping up on the market across the country. And for those who are unlucky enough to buy one, the burden may be far greater than underwater values and high debt. If you think about it, the shoddy quality of these “attractive” homes almost mirrors the true value of the US dollar itself.
Over the past two years, houses nationwide were going like hotcakes, with sellers often receiving tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars over asking price. Buyers often waived inspections and picked up some of the sellers’ costs in dire hopes of securing that coveted single-family home.
While the current landscape has changed due to higher interest rates, many parts of the country are still seeing bidding wars, and home prices are not yet experiencing a sharp decline. With inventory still lower than normal, many buyers remain hungry for a piece of the American dream.
However, some experts are cautioning would-be homeowners about quickly jumping into the home-buying pool without first doing their homework.“Listing prices are still high, and combined with the higher mortgage interest rates, people are going to be overpaying for their homes,” Andre Stewart, CEO of InvestFar, a real estate marketplace and database firm, told The Epoch Times. “It’s important for them to review their budget and make sure they’re not getting in over their heads.”
In the present market, the average homebuyer can expect to pay up to 25 percent more than in 2021. “It’s one thing if you’re buying a home to live in it for a very long time, but most people live there for five to 10 years, and then resell it,” said Stewart. “You want to make sure you’re going to make money on that sale.”
Stewart, who is also the author of “The Real Estate Investing Diet,” advises potential buyers about other often-ignored “red flags” of home purchasing. “During the pandemic, a lot of people were buying properties sight unseen, and they were skipping inspections,” Stewart recalled. “Getting a home inspection is extremely important—even with brand-new housing developments.”
Because new construction costs have skyrocketed, Stewart warns that some new developments may not be completed as expected. “There have been situations where people have purchased a home thinking the garage door would be arriving after they moved in, but it was never finished,” he said. “It’s worth the money to get the inspection so homeowners can have a full punch list of items to be completed before they close on the property.” Even luxury homes can harbor hidden problems, he added, such as mold.
Mark Aakjar, owner of Mark’s Inspections, has been servicing the New York metropolitan area for the past 14 years. “Mold is now what asbestos was 15 years ago,” he told The Epoch Times. “Mold can be anywhere—it’s just a matter of what type and how much. Some people may not have any reaction to it, while others may suffer from allergies or severe respiratory issues.”
Aakjar noted that, in some cases, the mold isn’t visible. “If I’m doing an inspection on a Manhattan apartment at the top of a 30-story building, I may not actually see evidence of mold, but an air test will indicate that mold is present. Then we have to start looking for it.”
Concerning new construction, Aakjar cited other common problems, such as undersized boilers or air-conditioning units, improper insulation, poor-quality windows, and foundation cracks.
Michael Gifford is the CEO and Co-Founder of San Diego-based Splitero, which offers existing homeowners options to access home equity without debt or additional monthly payments. The firm offers homeowners a lump-sum of cash in exchange for a share of their home’s appreciation.
As a real estate finance expert, Gifford also cautions potential homeowners on due diligence before making what will likely be the largest purchase of their lifetime. “I know there’s still an urgency for people to want to jump into the market, but they need to make sure they’re putting themselves in a proper position for the future,” Gifford told The Epoch Times. “And if they do decide to proceed, they always want to have a home inspection so they can understand exactly what they’re buying.”
Gifford noted potential homeowners—especially first-time homebuyers—should educate themselves about the home’s electrical, plumbing, heating, and air-conditioning systems, as well as things like roof age, condition of the basement, wells, septic tank, and the home’s foundation.
While roofing and mold remediation can be costly, Aakjar noted one often overlooked big-ticket item is windows. “Sometimes builders will install rubber gaskets instead of metal ones, which after time can cause windows to constantly look foggy,” he explained. “Windows are a cosmetic, but if you have 25 windows that need to be replaced, you’re looking at a major expense.”
Originally published on Zero Hedge.