Home sellers sign a disclosure document that they’re being upfront about any problems with the home.
“However, it can be very tempting for some to tell white lies or conveniently forgets facts,” says Wendy Flynn, owner of Wendy Flynn Realty in College Station, Texas. “In fact, a very large number of real estate lawsuits stem from owners misrepresenting their property.”
Realtor.com® recently featured some of the most common cover-ups that real estate professionals say they and their clients eventually discover.
Water damage:Water stains could be signs of leaks. “Many sellers try to conceal water intrusion in the basement, for example, with a pile of cardboard boxes or suitcases,” says Frank Baldassarre, owner of Ace Home Inspections on Staten Island, N.Y. If the home has obvious red flags – such as an odd odor or visible wall cracks – you may want to request removing a large picture frame to take a look at what may be behind it, Baladassarre says. Also, some home owners may try to use a fresh coat of paint to conceal water damage. As such, home owners may want to ask when the house was last painted. “If it was a year ago, they’re probably not trying to hide water stains,” says Baldassarre.
Bad foundation:Look for any jagged cracks in the wall. Zigzag cracks may signal a foundation problem, says Flynn. A bad foundation also could prevent cabinets and doors from closing properly.
Neighbor nuisances:“Home owners have an obligation to disclose what are called ‘neighborhood nuisances,’ but if they don’t, buyers have to rely on their word,” says Carrie Benuska, a real estate professional at the John Aaroe Group in Pasadena, Calif. “I know people who have asked their neighbors to keep noisy dogs inside during showings or only open their homes during strategic times of the day.” Buyers will want to take a walk around the neighborhood at different times of day to assess the area for themselves.
Temperature changes:“If you walk into a room and there’s a subtle shift in the atmosphere—maybe the air feels dry or damp—ask the owner what the room feels like throughout the seasons,” says Benuska. “The culprit is usually poor insulation, sometimes as a result of the owner adding a second room or floor to the home.”
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