Whether you are a seasoned Boston real estate investor or a first-time homebuyer, you should always be wary of such a large purchase. The most important thing is to have a good team behind you - a buyer's agent, a real estate attorney and a good inspector. Always have the property professionally inspected, even if it is new construction. Inspectors know what to look for, and recognize when corners were cut in renovations and construction. That said, if you are buying a Boston condo, Boston loft or even a Boston building, these are a few red flags recommended by Kathleen Kuhn, president of HouseMaster, and Bill Richardson, president of the American Society of Home Inspectors, that will surely mean big dollar signs.
1. Poor Water Pressure - this could indicate plumbing issues such as corroded pipes. To do a basic test, run the bathroom faucet and flush the toilet at the same time. Does the water pressure weaken during the flush? Also, run the faucet farthest from the water heater. A long delay in water heating could be a sign something is wrong.
2. Ceiling Stains - don't forget to look up. Ceiling stains can indicate problems such as a leaking pipe, poor bath or shower installation or even a leaky roof. It could only mean some simple regrouting or recaulking, but it could mean ripping out tile, replacing electrical work or purchasing a new roof.
3. Difficult Doors - notice that the doors don't close correctly or continually swing open? If the issue is only with one or two doors, chances are that the doors were not properly installed. If, however, the issue is consistent throughout areas of the house, it could be a sign of a problem with the foundation or framing.
4. Overloaded Electrical - notice a lot of extension cords? Today's electrical demands may exceed the capacity of older homes. Adding outlets and updating electrical can be quite expensive. Take notice if the electrical work in the house will meet your needs as a home owner.
5. Exterior Features that Slope Inward - is there a driveway, patio or hill that slopes toward the home? This is a formula for water in the basement, which can lead to structural decay, mold and insect infestation. Does the basement have a musty smell or have stains? There are many solutions for basement flooding, but all come at a cost.
6. Odors - don't let the classic trick of baking cookies throw you of guard. Pet odors and cigarette smoke can be difficult to remove. Also, if the home smells too clean (like bleach), that could be a sign of the seller's trying to hide smells like mold and mildew.
7. Synthetic Stucco Siding - if this type of siding is not installed correctly, water can get trapped behind it, resulting in mold and decay. If the home inspector notices an issue, you may want to consider paying for a special inspection by a professional. In the worst case scenario, the entire siding may need to be replaced, racking up a cost of thousands of dollars.