5 Red Flags in a Fixer Upper Home

December 17, 2013 § Leave a comment


5 Red Flags in a Fixer Upper Home

By Tali Wee of Zillow

Purchasing a home that needs work can be both exciting and stressful. An upside to buying a fixer-upper is having the ability to customize while making the necessary improvements. Further, a home in need of updates is most likely less expensive, so the property usually falls under budget when compared to a move-in ready home. However, there are certain red flags to keep an eye out for when purchasing a fixer-upper, as they are potential indicators of more serious and expensive problems.


When searching for a new home, consider these five issues that may not be worth the hassle.


  1. Bad Location


Changing the interior design and overall structure of a home is possible. Buyers can completely demolish and rebuild homes if approved by the city. However, once land is purchased, homeowners are stuck with that location. Therefore, buyers should pay extra attention to the neighborhoods of potential properties. Conduct online research to determine if the area is safe and comfortable for a family. Additionally, check out schools, parks and accessibility to grocery stores and gas stations. Even if the house is purchased specifically to flip, future homebuyers are going to take location and safety into consideration before making an offer.

2. Water Damage Signs


Water stains on the walls and ceilings of a home may indicate serious property damages. Although seemingly cosmetic, water stains can point to mold, leaking pipes and other major issues within the walls. Warped floors, especially linoleum in the kitchen, may be an indicator of a leaky dishwasher or kitchen sink pipes. The problem goes deeper than replacing the floor; the home could need a plumbing overhaul!

3.Dilapidated Roof


Roof repairs are one of the most expensive basic home updates. Signs that a roof needs repair are curling or clawing shingles, worn away granules, bare spots, broken pieces and buckling. Often times, leaks harm insulation prior to seeping through ceilings, causing drywall and floor damage. Even without noticeable damages, always ask an inspector when the last time the roof was replaced just to be safe.

4. Pest Damage


According to the National Pest Management Association, $5 billion is spent each year to remedy termite damages on properties in the United States. In fact, most insurance companies do not cover the cost of termite damage, since it’s technically a preventative maintenance issue. Therefore, any pest damages should be properly assessed before seriously considering a property purchase. Some signs of termites are fecal pellets and dead wings. Damages occur in walls, ceilings and sagging floors.

5. Questionable Disclosures


Pay close attention when reviewing disclosures. Any previous renovations conducted by a non-professional or homeowners themselves may require a complete overhaul. For example, if electrical wiring was completed by the previous owner and does not meet legal standards, drywall may have to be torn down to redo the wiring and ensure it’s up to code. Make sure every project authorized by the previous homeowner was permitted by the appropriated legal body, such as the city or county, especially when it comes to additions and conversions.


While these five red flags aren’t always deal breakers, investigate all concerns further and assess improvement costs before making an offer on a home. This way, homebuyers are less likely to lose money on a fixer-upper with major problems while avoiding the anxiety caused by unexpected required repairs.



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