By Rebecca Mathison, Guest Blogger
If one more person on one of those home buying shows says they don’t like a room in a home because of the PAINT COLOR I’m going to lose my mind. Seriously? PAINT COLOR is something you’re that concerned with? Have you never been to a home improvement store and seen how EASY it is buy a gallon or three of paint and fix that EPIC PROBLEM of paint color?! Ahh! Sorry, rant over. But seriously, paint color is NOT something you should be worrying about when looking to buy or rent a new a place. Here are things that you SHOULD BE concerned over when going in to take a look at a place:
Signs of Water Damage
I went looking at homes once and there was obvious water damage coming from the ceiling and leaking down the wall. In fact, it still looked a little wet and my real estate agent told me it didn’t look like a big deal. That’s when I decided 1) this agent HAS to go and 2)this isn’t the house for me. This was going to be my first house and I did NOT want to deal with whatever the cause of the water damage was and whatever results might have happened because of the leak. Old pipes, drainage problems, roof issues…none of these things were on my Top Ten List of Musts and the water damage peppered throughout the house made me uneasy.
I suppose this one isn’t something to look for but more of something to smell for. Me, if I smell even the slightest hint of mold or mildew, I do immediately turn around and walk out on a home. There are so many possibilities for mold damage that it can be a nightmare. You have to find ALL of the moldy areas and solve what you think might’ve caused the problem. Also, things like cigarette smoke and pet odors can be a real hassle as well. It is still pretty much a buyer’s market, so be picky. You can try real hard to clean something, but some smells just aren’t coming off. They do make odor eliminating paints now which help greatly, but smells can seep into wood and carpets and those aren’t nearly as easy to fix.
Cracks in the Walls, Ceiling, or Outside Foundation
Also in the house with the water damage, we noticed several large cracks running along a few of the walls and a couple significant ones in the ceiling. Granted, cracks happen and can be part of the natural settling process of a home, but these were pretty big cracks. Again, my handy agent told me the cracks were probably nothing. Remember, any and ALL cracks should be looked at by your home inspector. They will be able to tell you if the damage is from settling or if it is from a serious foundation problem or something else.
The “tennis ball test” is a pretty good one to tell if a room is level. You put a tennis ball in the middle of a room and if it says put, the room is level. If it rolls in any certain direction, then there’s a problem. Fixing a droopy room tends to be a pricey problem. Many new homeowners don’t want to deal with the hassle of fixing it themselves or putting it on the list of things a seller must do.
Many of these home improvement shows now emphasize the fact that most things on a house can be changed if you want them to EXCEPT really for size (without going to the expense of an addition). If a home has good bones, as in a good basic layout and sound construction, you can change other things. You can replace cabinets, bathtubs, PAINT COLOR, and even tear down walls. It is the location, size, and basic construction that you need to focus on.
This list is more geared towards a person who is NOT looking for a real fixer upper. I didn’t want to have to put a lot of work into a house when I saw how cheap houses were going. I stayed picky (thankfully) and got a house I liked. Don’t be afraid to tell a real estate agent what you think and what you do/don’t like (without being rude of course). You make sure you find a quality house that you can tweak to make your own. Painting is an easy tweak–fixing a roof and removing mold are not. So keep an eye out for these things and either leave, or have them negotiated at signing and ALWAYS GET AT LEAST ONE REALLY GOOD HOME INSPECTION DONE!