Some owners in their eagerness to sell their homes may use subtle and sometimes not so subtle, gimmicks to entice you to buy their home. While some of their tactics are innocent ploys intended to create an attractive atmosphere within their home, others are more devious, sometimes even fraudulent, deliberately attempting to conceal defects or problems.
Prior to listing a home for sale, owners are required to fill out a disclosure statement, providing information about the home’s age, condition, systems, and past or current problems of which the owner is aware.
Once an offer to purchase is made, buyers review the disclosure. Look over it carefully, and look for areas where the owner’s language seems to try to minimize problems. Then get answers to any questions you have regarding the problems that have been listed. Ask for the details of all repairs, when they was made, the name and address of the contractor making the repair, and whether or not there is a transferrable warranty. Your inquisitiveness can help you avoid future surprises and headaches.
Because some sellers may attempt to conceal certain problems, buyers must be on guard for such tricks and conduct a thorough evaluation of each home, ignoring the fluff. Some things to look for are:
Fresh paint. If it’s on a ceiling it may be concealing a leaky roof; on exterior trim it may cover rotted wood. Fresh paint in a basement may cover the stain of a previous leak.
Amateurish repairs to drywall. On ceilings, potential roof leaks. Over doors or in corners may indicate settling or termite damage.
Artificially pleasant smells. Are they trying to cover the musty odor of a leaky basement, mold or mildew?
Rugs on top of basement carpet. Lift them to see if they cover leak stains.
Repairs to hardwood flooring. Could conceal previous leaks or moisture problems.
Sparsely furnished rooms. Are the rooms actually large enough to accommodate your furniture?
Closets with insufficient clothes for a normal lifestyle. Envision your wardrobe there. Is there sufficient room for your clothes?
Newly landscaped areas. Do they conceal a drainage or ponding problem?
Fresh roof cement around chimneys or other areas on roof. It could be a temporary repair of an ongoing roof leak.
Obvious patches in concrete. Resurfacing concrete is good when done properly. If not, it usually fails within a few months.
Of course ALL homes should be inspected by a certified home inspector. Experienced inspectors know how to look past the make-up and will expose the tactics of zealous or unscrupulous sellers.
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