Where To Begin
Checking Credit
Research Before Choosing A Neighborhood
Check the Zoning
New Home Or Resale?
Think You Don't Need Flood Insurance?
Used Homes
Do I Need Title Insurance?
Be Alert For Sellers’ Tricks
Recruiting The Experts
Choosing A Real Estate Agent
The Foreclosure Market
Buying? Think Selling!
ALWAYS—ALWAYS Hire a Home Inspector
Be Your Own Inspector
Partnership Purchases
Financing Tips
Can't Afford A Down Payment?
Negotiating Tips
10 Tips For Winning A Bidding War
Homebuying Checklist
Home Warranty Tips
Can You Afford the Home You Want?
Green Building Tips


Watch for Sellers' RepairsBe Alert For Sellers’ Tricks

Homebuyers occasionally encounter eager sellers who have used subtle and sometimes not so subtle, gimmicks to entice someone to buy their home. While some of their tactics are innocent ploys intended to create an attractive atmosphere within their home, others can be more devious, sometimes even fraudulent, deliberately attempting to conceal defects or problems.

Prior to listing a home for sale, owners must fill out a disclosure statement, providing information about the home’s age, condition, its systems, and past or current problems of which the owner may be aware.

Once an offer to purchase is made, buyers have an opportunity to review the disclosure. Look over it carefully, and look for areas where owners the owner’s language seems to try to minimize problems. Then get answers to any questions you have regarding the problems that have been listed. Ask for the details of all repairs, when they were made, the name and address of the contractor making the repair, and whether or not there is a transferrable warranty. Your inquisitiveness can help you avoid future surprises and headaches.

Because some sellers may attempt to conceal certain problems, buyers must be on guard for such tricks and conduct a thorough evaluation of each home, ignoring the fluff. Some things to look for are:

  • Fresh paint. If it’s on a ceiling it may be concealing a leaky roof; on exterior trim it may cover rotted wood. Fresh paint in a basement may cover the stain of a previous leak.
  • Amateurish repairs to drywall. On ceilings, potential roof leaks. Over doors or in corners may indicate settling or termite damage.
  • Artificially pleasant smells. Are they trying to cover the musty odor of a leaky basement, mold or mildew?
  • Rugs on top of basement carpet. Lift them to see if they cover leak stains.
  • Repairs to hardwood flooring. Could conceal previous leaks or moisture problems.
  • Sparsely furnished rooms. Are the rooms actually large enough to accommodate your furniture?
  • Closets with insufficient clothes for a normal lifestyle. Envision your wardrobe there. Is there sufficient room for your clothes?
  • Newly landscaped areas. Do they conceal a drainage or ponding problem?
  • Fresh roof cement around chimneys or other areas on roof. It could be a temporary repair of an ongoing roof leak.
  • Obvious patches in concrete. Resurfacing concrete is good when done properly. If not, it usually fails within a few months.

Of course ALL homes should be inspected by a certified home inspector. Experienced inspectors know how to look past the make-up and will expose the tactics of zealous or unscrupulous sellers.


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