What to Look for in a New Home

So it’s time for you to search for a new home. If this is the first time you’ve ever looked for a house, it’s easy to understand why you would be overwhelmed. A home is a huge commitment! If you’re buying a house you will likely live in it for years; and if you don’t plan on living in the home you buy for the long term, you need to be especially careful when selecting a house because you’ll want to sell with a profit rather than a loss. Additionally, there is obviously a huge financial commitment that comes with buying a house. Most of us will not be able to buy our homes outright with cash. Rather, we will need to apply for a mortgage loan. A mortgage is a loan issued by a financial institution, usually a bank, that will enable you to buy your house. If you aren’t able to make your payments consistently and on time, the financial institution may essentially claim your house in what is known as a foreclosure. Furthermore, even if you find what appears to be the right house, that doesn’t mean your lender will agree with you. Lenders are committing to your house as well, and they’ll want it inspected and appraised to ensure that it’s worth the value you want them to commit to your purchase.

With that being said, you should not only be aware of what to look for in a new home, but what to look out for as well. Just because a house seems to be an excellent deal financially doesn’t mean that it’s going to suit your needs on a more personal level. Additionally, there are certain structural issues that should catch the attention of not only your lenders, but you as well. You need to be on the look out for certain home inspection report red flags. Just because a house aesthetically seems like an ideal fit for you and your family doesn’t mean that it will really suit all of you. Additionally, you’ll ideally want to make sure that the home you’re considering will earn your lender’s approval. The last thing you want is to get your heart set on a home only to find that it doesn’t meet your lender’s standards. While you could potentially attempt to pursue a mortgage through a new lender, the reality is that for most people this tactic is not only time-consuming and expensive (with each lender often requiring new home inspections) but also fruitless. This is why some homeowners choose to have multiple home inspections done, with the first being executed before they seek out a lender in the first place.

Nonetheless, there are also home inspection report red flags that technically will pass muster with lenders. Lenders will often approve homeowners for mortgages that will cover the price of “fixer upper” homes, which require renovations. But just because you think you’re ready to invest in a home that needs some work doesn’t mean that you should accept every flaw. Some problems can be mended through renovations and remodeling jobs. Others require a bit more work, and perhaps more than you’re really prepared to commit to. Let’s look into some home inspection report red flags, as well as what to look for in a new home.

Red Flag: Mold

When considering home inspection report red flags, perhaps one of the most alarming yet common is mold. Mold is seen less often in new houses, though it certainly can still be found within both old and homes. At times, mold can simply be a sign of neglect and a bit of dirtiness within the home. It’s unsightly and a bit embarrassing for the current homeowner, but it can be cleaned up fairly easily. Other times, however, mold can be an indicator of much more serious issues. Usually, mold can be found fairly quickly within a home inspection. One of the biggest problems that people can run into with mold is an extensive mold problem, spreading far throughout a home. If mold spreads extensively throughout a home, it’s not only more difficult to get rid of, but more likely to recur. Additionally, the source of the mold can be a consideration to make as well. If mold is the result of poor ventilation or accumulating moisture, it will be more likely to recur. The solution could be as simple as replacing windows or filters, or as complex as completely renovating a space. For most homeowners, this ultimately will not be worth it.

Look For: A Good School District

Although a bad school district will not be counted amongst home inspection report red flags, it can still greatly affect a home’s overall value. Parents want to know that their children are receiving the best possible education, and it can be difficult to ensure this without being in a good school district. More highly rated school districts will typically have greater funding, better teachers, and even a better and safer social aspect for children. When your children attend a highly rated school, it will statistically be easier for them to do well in school and make the kinds of grades that will get them into good universities and colleges. You can also feel safer about sending your children off to school if they’re in a good school district. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that when a home in a district with good elementary schools and high schools, it tends to be more valuable. Being in a good school district is a great investment, and it shouldn’t be dismissed even if you don’t have or plan on having children.

Red Flag: Structural Issues

There are a lot of different problems covered under the blanket term of structural issues. Ultimately, this is what home inspections are looking for in the first place. But there is a reason why structural issues are so problematic in terms of both value and safety. When your list of home inspection report red flags includes structural problems, you generally can be sure that there’s a good chance that you will be denied your mortgage. Major structural problems can include a cracked foundation, damaged walls, or sagging ceilings. Some structural problems are not visually obvious, while others are apparent when you tour a house. Being able to take notice of the difference. between simple fixer upper problems and serious structural problems is an important part of residential home buying. Some damaged siding is one thing; damaged foundation is another issue entirely.

Look For: Good Landscaping

This is another issue that won’t necessarily come up on your list of home inspection report red flags, though major issues with your land that affect your potential house generally will. But it will affect the value of your property. Some landscapes have gardens and fences, while others act more as blank spaces. However, you’ll want yours to be aesthetically pleasing, or at least have the potential to be aesthetically pleasing with a little bit of tender loving care. Now, you might want to get an idea of how much that tender loving care will cost. It’s one thing to add a few plants to your backyard here and there, and another thing to invest in hydroseeding erosion control strategies. This won’t necessarily be as much of a concern if the house that you’re considering is in an area that lacks landscapes. But you need to make sure that your potential landscape at least has the potential to appeal to a crowd with a relatively low investment if your potential home is in a neighborhood with spacious front and backyards.

Red Flag: Grading

If you haven’t been searching for a home for very long, you may not be very aware of what grading is in the first place. But if this is showing up on your list of home inspection report red flags, you need to rethink investing in a home in a big way. Essentially, grading is the slope of a property. This means that it affects the way that water drains on your property during storms or when snow melts. At first glance, this may not seem like that much of an issue. But it affects more than just the way that your gutter guards drain. n fact, if your property slopes in even a slight manner, water will begin to pool in certain pockets. While it will pool outdoors, water and moisture will also pool within the house itself. This is why grading problems are included among home inspection report red flags. Usually, the water will pool around basements or the foundation. Ultimately, this can lead to mold, or perhaps foundation damage. Now, if the property slopes away from the home, the yard can end up forming a valley. The water will pool in this valley, and in the long term this can lead to flooding and other water issues. Before you have your home inspected, you should visually examine the property you’re considering for signs of grading issues. If the surrounding yard is completely flat, that’s a good sign. But if there are patches of dead grass or odd areas with moisture or puddles, that would be a sign that you could have grading problems. Moist areas close to the home, or a kind of sloping towards the home, could also indicate that grading may come up as an issue with your home inspection.

Look For: Recent Updates

Typically, when people see home inspection report red flags on their home inspections, they either respond by backing out of the sale of their homes or by making necessary updates. These updates are often practical, but can often come with aesthetic benefits as well. If you’re looking for a house that will be more likely to retain its value, you’ll want to buy one that has been recently updated. Now, a recently updated home will typically be more expensive. But you should remember that you won’t have to invest in updates for a recently renovated house, and you can essentially take that out of your “extras” budget for a home. Additionally, because there won’t be as many home inspection report red flags to worry about, you can generally feel better about applying for a mortgage with a house that has recently been updated. Therefore, your closing process will probably be a lot simpler with a house that has undergone a recent bathroom or kitchen renovation, for example.

Red Flag: Pests

Various pest control issues may not always come up as home inspection report red flags, as not every home inspector will necessarily catch that there are pests present on a property. But generally, there are visual signs that home inspectors can pick up on. There are the obvious signs, like droppings. But additionally, scratching or chewing on siding as well as cracks and holes that small rodents and bugs can slip through on exterior tile and stone can indicate that there are pests present. Sometimes, pests can be relatively easy to get rid of with the help of professional exterminators. Though of course, this can get expensive rather quickly. Other times, they’re not only expensive to get rid of but difficult as well. This is particularly true with termites, which are not only disgusting but can affect the general structural integrity of a home. Either way, you need to take them seriously.

Look For: Broad Appeal

Generally speaking, you can use decor and your own design choices to make a home uniquely yours. You don’t have to invest in a house with an overly unique custom design in order to get something quirky or stylish. Although customizations may not always cause home inspection report red flags, they can decrease the value of a home by alienating buyers in the future. You always need to think of the future.

There are a lot of reasons why you may choose to buy a home. But remember: ultimately, you need it to pass inspection first no matter what.