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Buyer Beware

Buyer Beware

What is the number one rule to remember in real estate? “Caveat Emptor.” Caveat Emptor is latin for, “let the buyer beware.” It’s the way the real estate world works and it means that the buyer is responsible for doing all the research associated with their home purchase. You didn’t know about the cracks in the foundation? Too bad. You didn’t know it was in a flood zone. Oops! At the end of the day, it’s the buyers job--and the real estate agent they hire--to make sure every home purchase is as free from risk as possible.

Real estate is micro-local too. So, houses in Bartlett will be very different to houses in Midtown. Make sure you are interviewing agents that are knowledgeable in your market and with that era of housing. Have they ever managed a rehab on a house of this era? Have they ever worked in new construction? How many homes has your agent sold in this particular part of town? “Buyer Beware: it’s your job to ask these questions and ensure you’re well represented.

Things to look out for when shopping for a home:

  • Trees touching the roof line
  • Yards that slope towards the house
  • Moisture in the crawlspace or basements
  • Floor defects hidden under rugs
  • Ceiling stains, especially around chimneys and vents
  • Sloping floors, especially around bathrooms
  • HVAC condensers on unlevel/unraised ground
  • Bent coils within an HVAC condenser
  • Code violations that might hint at the quality of workmanship

A qualified real estate agent should show you all of a home’s major systems and explain their condition. They should be able to show you defects that are worrisome and minor--and give you ballpark estimates or game-plans for how to address them (within the contract or outside of the sale). Purchasing a home, especially your first one, is a financial milestone that can set the foundation for future wealth. Don’t squander the opportunity.