House buying...missing Anything

Updated on December 14, 2010
M.C. asks from Saint Paul, MN
15 answers

When you bought your house what do you wish you would have known before accepting offer? We are in the process of buying a home, we have not had an inspection yet it is a contingency, We know that it is a house build in the 1970's so lead paint is always a worry, but even the apt we live in is that old so I guess we are use to it...should we be worried more about the paint. We are purchasing a bank owned home that is on the verge of forclosure so it is being sold as is. We gave an offer but have not accepted the Banks counter offer yet. My hubby is knowledge in construction and seems happy with the house we chose, it needs work, it's outdated but all things we can do. any helpful suggestions would be apreciated.

Note* new heater, New furnace, new siding, Newer within 10 yrs roof, sofits... We have money back on the purchase price for appliances and they are required to update outdated breaker box and GFI in all bathrooms, kitchen..etc.

I am currently trying to find out how to get info on any liens on property if anyone knows how to do this let me know. Taxes seem to be correct.

Keep them coming I apreciate all the help

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answers from Washington DC on


The paint is the least of your worries.

Electrical - Ensure the electrical panel is updated - our home was built in the 1970s as well and the wiring was getting old.

Insulation - for 1970's home - I would hazard a guess that the insulation has "slipped" in the walls and in basically non-existent

The "bones" of the house are important - you can update and remodel but if the foundation is not right - no amount of remodeling or updating will fix that.

Appliances - if it's bank owned - most likely in need of replacement.

Heat/AC - probably needs replacement (a heater alone can be $8K). Make sure the duct work is checked when you have the inspection so you aren't surprised with critters!!! (this depends upon how long the house has been vacant)

Pool - if it has one - you will have to plan on draining it and refilling it - the pump, etc. will need to be looked at as well.

Plumbing - look for tell-tale signs of water damage. Make sure you can flush the toilet and take a shower - we found out the hard way - turn on the shower - flush the toilet - water pressure SHOULD NOT change - nor should the temp - but it's entirely possible it will.

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answers from Chicago on

Pretty much every major appliance will be at the end of its useful life. Furnace, water heater, washer & dryer, A/C...make sure you are budgeting to replace all of those within the next few years.

Ask what their monthly energy bills are in the winter time. The house might be drafty. I WISH we would have gotten an Energy Audit done before we purchased our home.

Find out if there have been any insurance claims in the house for mold or water damage. WISH we would have investigated this, as our seller lied to us about water in the basement, but within 5 months of moving into our home we flooded twice. The losses the first time amounted to nearly $9k, and then our insurance rates skyrocketed!

**Have a radon check done. It varies by state, but not normally part of a normal inspection. Radon exposure is the 2nd leading cause of lung cancer (after smoking).

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answers from Minneapolis on

I would be concerned about the lead paint, I didn't hardly think of it when we bought our house but when we began to do renovations (new windows) I became more concerned. Also, there is a new law that was passed:

If your home was built prior to 1978 the EPA has new
lead testing rules and certifications that may affect you.
Beginning 4/22/10, all surfaces in your home will have
to be tested for lead and specific procedures for
abatement and disposal must be followed during a

More info on this is here:
So anyways, this could add to the cost of any future project (even getting new carpet!) and there is always the worry of stirring up the lead paint when remodeling. Is there any way you could have the inspector test for lead paint?

Also, some things I wish we had considered the following before buying our house:

Our small town:
a south metro suburb of a suburb that was "growing" before the economy crash. Any businesses that WERE in town are now closed, leaving just a gas station. (But we got plenty of bars, sigh.) closest store is over 10 miles away and it is annoying. When it snowstorms, we are pretty much screwed, they really only plow 35W to like lakeville, then they must turn around or something, cuz the roads are horrible. You can get a bigger better house in a small town a little further away, but good luck getting and keeping a job that doesn't take over an hour to commute to!!

Our neighborhood - NO SIDEWALKS! you have to walk down a sometimes busy street a little ways then onto a side street before you reach the sidewalks.

Our neighbors are not too friendly but I guess you wouldn't really be able to know that ahead of time.

SMOKERS owned the house before us. I don't know how I never noticed it before we bought it, but even now, 5 years later, when the house is shut up we can smell it. It is in the wood, and we have a LOT of hardwood.

TWO bathrooms. Seriously, when you both gotta go, you gotta go. And the bathroom you plan on putting in in the basement? Probably not gonna happen for years.

And keep in mind, house values MIGHT NOT GO UP. They might go down. Everyone always says they will go up and think of all the equity you will have in 5 years. Yea right, look where we are today. underwater.


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answers from Oklahoma City on

Make sure you have a termite inspection done. They are required in some states, not sure about MN. Also something that caught us when we were selling our old houses: if the roof has more than three layers, you'll have trouble finding insurance. Make sure your inspector checks that out. We had to replace the roof because the buyer couldn't insure the house otherwise. Others have mentioned sewage; if you have a septic tank, find out where it's located and when the last time was it got emptied. If it's been more than 6 months, ask them to have it emptied again. Also find out where the drain field is located and when the last time was it got replaced. Consider the trees in the area of the drain field; are they older or younger than the drain field? Could their roots compromise it?

You said you're buying the house as is, so I don't know if these will apply, but they're things I looked for when buying:

Insulation!! There's no such thing as too much.
Air seepage around doors and windows. Also, do all the windows open? That may be a requirement for insurance again, depending on how you are financing.
Make sure when they update the breaker box that all electric is up to code, esp how the wires attach to the house; there have been a lot of changes in the rules lately.
Which direction does the house face? You will have better control over heating and cooling if the house faces north/south, because you can open/close blinds according to natural heat needs. A north/south yard is better for gardening.
Check what shape the exterior walls are in, under that new siding.
How does the yard slope? Will it carry water toward or away from the house? Will you be able to get in and out of the driveway in an ice storm? If not, is there enough room to park on the road without worrying that someone will hit your vehicle?
Is the driveway large enough to accommodate the number of cars you have? Or will you have to play musical cars?
How do the neighboring houses look? Do they keep up their yards/houses? Is anyone running a business out of their garage (i.e., mechanic) that makes the neighborhood look messy? (If that's important to you). Is the neighborhood kid-friendly?

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answers from Los Angeles on

Make sure the property has no city fines pending (some will carry over to the new owners).
Get a home insurance that covers appliances, roof, pests, etc.
Definately get the inspection, from a reputable place.
Know the comps in the area.
Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Well, if the house is being sold (and accepted) by you "as is" then I guess the inspection is like a fact-finding mission for you to have and use to correct any issues of concern. It's not that the bank is going to pay for the correction of any problems that are found, right?
Still, a home inspection is worth every penny that you pay for it so get a good company and pay for the inspection yourself.
If the house is almost in foreclosure, hopefully the deal you are getting will allow you to have the funds to correct any and all safety issues.
And lead paint is not necessarily "the least of your worries"! Have it all tested.
O. thing to pass along, I was 30 and single when I bought my first home. The bank approved me for TWICE what my mortgage actually was and I often thought how I would be eating dog food if my mortgage was double what it was.
Only YOU know what you can afford, not the bank. Keep that in mind!
Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on


I see you already got some good answers. I just wanted to add that you should know whether the water is from a well or city water. If well water then you will need it tested which is something that can be done at the inspection. Be knowlegeable about the sewage, whether you have a septic tank or city sewage. Septic tanks need to be emptied about every year.
My husband is also a contractor so I assume yours knows about the structural aspects of the inside and out.
On the financial side: I didn't know about PMI (Private Mortgage Ins.) when we were buying our house until we got stuck with one. Also the listing may not have the accurate taxes estimate. Call the local city hall and have them give you a more accurate number. Also pay attention at the closing. Know ahead of time what the realtor's charges will be.
Best of luck to you :)

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answers from Detroit on

Since you're buying in winter, be sure to check the foundation as suggested before. Also, in my first home purchase, we bought before the first freeze... That winter we were dealing with our block basement caving in on the driveway side of the house... The driveway was not angled correctly and caused water to seep in between the driveway and house, buckling the basement wall. I was glad that I knew a contractor! That job SHOULD HAVE cost $15,000+... We paid for materials and labor for the brick guy. That was it. $3000.

I agree with the electrical too. I wouldn't worry about the paint as much as electrical and foundation. If your hubby has knowledge of construction, he should be able to insulate the walls to better standards without much fuss.

Check the attic. Check the disclosure statement closely. Talk to the neighbors.

And if the house is already bank owned, it's already been forclosed on. You're no longer dealing with the previous owner. Get your own inspector. If the bank is sending an inspector, they won't check for gas leaks or electrical shorts... Someone you are personally paying, will or should.

The date for the furnace, hot water tank, and A/C (if there) will be on them. Anything over 30yrs old, may need replacement.

Find out if the roof has been done in the last 10yrs and if there is one, two, or three layers of shingles. If there's only 1 layer... It's probably never been replaced. If there's two... You're probably in pretty good shape. If there's three, I'd want to know why. A roof should be replaced every 20yrs, give or take a few depending on the product and construction quality.

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to PM me. I've purchased 2 homes (one built in 1943 and the other built in 1906). My husband's old house was built in 1950's and the two homes I grew up in were built in the 50's and 70's. All very different style homes with their own issues. I helped repair all of them to some extent. : )

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Make sure you get an inspector that you hire, and walk through the house with the inspector taking notes...get a plumber out to inspect the sewer/septic pipes-check trees, sidewalks, driveways, etc for repairs that might be needed, electrician for evaluations. Talk to the neighbors to get a history on the house/neighborhood. We bought an old "crack" house (did not know that at the time) “as is” and foreclosed house (we spent close to $30,000 + to get our house up to code just to move in) and have had nothing but problems in with the house and neighborhood. Still having issues with getting caught up with repairs-been 13 years since we moved in. Good Luck

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answers from Boise on

I wish I had known that the neighbors (and each neighbor since) seems required to have a trampoline, and a dog that is a barker, and that they leave outside for days at a time.

I would also have liked to have known how much life was left in the furnace/ac units.


answers from San Antonio on

- in a flood zone?
- termite inspection (it'll be worth the $200 or so toknow BEFORE you buy)
- find out average electricity costs. This may help you know about insulation
- in the 70s, what kind of wire did they use? My husband is an electrician and hated the wire in our old house. I think it was aluminum?
- are there gas and electric lines or just electric or just gas? It'd be a bummer for you to have to buy new washer/dryer because yours is different than what's ready in the house



answers from Chicago on

A title check can tell you if there are any liens on the property, including bank, city,state, etc. Usuaslly this is ordered by the mortgage company before closing your loan since they want to make sure no one else has dibs. You can also order one yourself. We will be doing this soon to make sure my co-owner has not defaulted--especially to the IRS.



answers from Cleveland on

All good stuff I see so far. I always worry if something smells bad, you need to get to the source of any odor and see if you can figure out what it is and if you can remedy it. (Previous owner of our house just dumped washing machine water and kitchen sink water in the crawlspace--NOT GOOD!)

Inspection is worth the money, don't necessarily use the comapny bank or realtor recommend.

Find out if house has to meet code before you can live in it.

Good luck!



answers from New York on

Does the house have a basement? If so make sure there are no moisture issues. Also make sure any decks or porches are properly attached.

Other folks mention electric / insulation but don't forget plumbing. Also, not sure what you folks do for septic out there, but make sure whatever you have works.



answers from Philadelphia on

Get a company in there to run a camera through the sewer line to make sure it's intact. The last thing you want is for your sewer line to fail due to roots, cracks, etc and have to shell out thousands of dollars to fix it. They usually don't do this during inspection, but it's well worth the couple hundred it'll cost you now vs the thousands it COULD cost you later.

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