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House-Hunting Deal Breakers

When you're looking for a new home, how do you know what's okay and what's a red flag? Read on to find out!

DEAL BREAKER: Buried oil tank
A buried oil tank is expensive to remove and could create potential environmental issues. If the tank leaks oil into the ground -- yikes! -- the cleanup and repairs could cost up to $40K. Since you can't see it, be sure to ask the sellers, or check if it's noted in the fine print of the home's listing information.

DEAL WITH IT: Old roof
An old roof doesn't necessarily indicate a bad roof -- so long as it's not leaking, you're okay to go. Just make sure you start saving money right away for when you do have to replace it.
PRICE TO FIX: $1,700 to $8,400 to replace asphalt shingles on a typical ranch home, depending on the location. Prices increase for a complete replacement as well as for different materials and types of homes.

DEAL BREAKER: Amateur plumbing and wiring
Novice plumbing could cost you big if you have to rip out pipes and replace walls and flooring due to leaks. There's also a higher risk of a short leading to sparks and fires if the electrical work had been done by a non-pro. Look out for exposed wiring in the basement as well as S-traps under the sinks (professional traps look like a "P").

DEAL WITH IT: Ugly wall-to-wall carpet
Consider the possibilities! You can rip it out and replace it with fresh carpet or gorgeous new tile. Or you could restore the original wood floor below by buffing or re-staining.
PRICE TO FIX: $13 to $20 per square yard for buying and installing inexpensive flooring.

DEAL BREAKER: water damage
See it low on basement walls where they meet the floor? The house may have huge drainage issues. These won't typically be solved with simple grading. Think: An expert to dig around the foundation or basement and install drainage pipes…expensive! If you spot water damage high in the corners of most rooms, buyer beware. It can be a sign of a leaky roof or years of pipe damage.

DEAL WITH IT: Electric stove instead of a gas one
Have your gas company run a line into your home from a gas line in the street or the propane tank in your yard.
PRICE TO FIX: Approximately $300.

DEAL BREAKER: asbestos
Asbestos poses a serious health hazard (it's a carcinogen). Check in attics and around the plumbing for asbestos insulation; it can either look chalky or like fiberglass insulation with little air chambers on the end. Pass on an older pad if the insulation is worn or disintegrating.

DEAL WITH IT: no central AC
Window units are a pain, but something you can live with until you get a system installed.
PRICE TO FIX: Installing central AC can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $3,000.

DEAL BREAKER: bad school district
A bad school district is definitely a red flag if you want children in the future. Even if you plan to sell before your own kids are old enough to attend school, the majority of family-oriented buyers won't want to buy it, either.

DEAL WITH IT: gross wallpaper
This is a pretty easy fix. Pick up a wallpaper scorer at your local paint or hardware store and score the paper (to make holes). Use a mixture of white vinegar and warm water to loosen the glue, carefully peel off the pieces of paper and remove any excess glue from the walls once the paper is completely pulled down.
PRICE TO FIX: Under $50, unless the home’s wallpaper is hiding a multitude of sins.

 

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