Recent surges in property prices make it very tempting for homebuyers to jump at what appears to be a great deal. But is it really? How can potential buyers know whether they are jumping headlong into a money pit or making a great investment? There are some lovely older homes among Wichita homes for sale that may require careful inspection. Our real estate agents have some suggestions to help you decide.
- Question everything
Quick cosmetic changes can make a house look really attractive, which, of course, we all want. But a fresh coat of paint won't correct ailing plumbing or a deteriorated roof. Ignore the sales pitch and investigate the history of the house. The county assessor's office keeps records of the property owners. If the house has had multiple owners in the last year, you can bet it was purchased by a flipper who only made cosmetic changes.
- Take a good look
When you view the house, check to make sure everything functions properly. Turn on the water, listen for noisy pipes and check the water pressure. Flush the toilets, and check under the tank's lid to see if the hardware is in good condition. Speaking of hardware, look at hinges, doorknobs, and drawers. Flippers often buy cheap products in bulk to save money. These small details can be a dead giveaway that the house was flipped without significant improvements. The doors should be sturdy, opening and closing with ease. Drawers should open smoothly. These are areas flippers often dress up to look new but use inexpensive materials to bolster profits. Look under sinks to check for water damage from old leaks.
- Ask who performed renovations
Often do-it-yourselfers make repairs without obtaining the proper permits. This can lead to thousands of dollars in fines and repairs. You can verify permits for any work that was done through the city, often online. If you can't locate the appropriate records, call for assistance. Houses that sit empty for a time often generate fines for weeds or other local violations. Make sure you don't inherit those fines by researching before you buy.
- Verify licenses
Home repairs and upgrades can be done under the supervision of a general contractor or by a specialist such as a plumber or roofer. You can research any of them through the Registrar of Contractors by name, owner name, or ROC number. Kansas does not require licenses at the state level, but each county regulates contractor and trade licenses. Your search will reveal the scope and status of the license and the qualifying party behind the license. It will also show the details of any complaint filed against the contractor. If work was done without a valid license that is beyond the scope of a handyman, beware!
- Insist on a home inspection
If the house has passed muster on everything so far, a final, critical step is to engage a third-party home inspector. This expert has been well-trained to make an unbiased assessment of the home's elements you may not be able to see. They investigate the structural integrity of the home, checking the roof, the HVAC system, wiring, and plumbing. Their trained eyes will spot shoddy workmanship other people are likely to miss. Since the buyer is normally responsible for the inspection cost, it may be tempting to skip the process. That could ultimately be a costly mistake.
Navigating real estate transactions can be a confusing and time-consuming business. Contact us when you're ready to meet with a qualified real estate professional to help guide you through it.