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8 inspection pitfalls to avoid when buying a home

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First Published      Last Updated May 05 2017 09:33 am

You may not realize it, but much of your work in a real estate transaction comes after you sign a contract.

That's because you are now responsible for inspecting your would-be home to make sure it meets your expectations. This occurs in the due diligence period before you finalize your purchase.

In Utah, sellers are required to provide information about "material defects" they know about. However, it is ultimately up to buyers to inspect anything they want to know — especially since sellers don't know everything about the property and don't know how you want to use it.




The consequences of avoiding inspections can be catastrophic. Just ask the couple in Georgia who bought without a survey and later learned their house was built on someone else's property.

Or ask the buyer who purchased a house without an inspection only to learn it was sinking.

Without proper inspections and research, buyers could end up with disastrous results. The following list is not comprehensive, but here are eight inspection mistakes to avoid.

1. Failing to check zoning

Does the property's zoning allow you to do what you intend? If you're buying with the purpose of renting or operating a business, you need to make sure it is legal to do so.

2. Not testing for toxic substances

Buyers need to consult with experts to determine whether there are hazardous materials or toxic substances on a property, including asbestos, lead-based paint, radon, mold, meth, etc.

In the case of meth, for example, decontamination could cost you thousands if you fail to get an inspection and later learn the substance is present.

3. Overlooking the neighborhood

Don't make assumptions about the future of nearby lots. Don't assume the neighboring field will be perpetual green space. Rather, research who owns nearby property and what plans they have for it.

A few other items to research in a neighborhood include schools, crime rates, noise and traffic.

4. Buying without looking at HOA information

If the title search or property records show there's a homeowners' association, you need to look at the HOA's financials, dues, minutes and governing documents.

Don't wait until after you've bought the house to learn you can't park your car in your driveway or that you have a $2,000 assessment for new roofs due in a month.

5. Forgetting about easements

If you want to build a shed or put in some new landscaping, it's critical to know if there are any easements on the property. Perhaps a water or utility line in the backyard will prevent you from making those changes.

6. Failing to research insurance and utilities

Many lenders will require you to have insurance as part of your loan, possibly flood insurance. Check into the cost and availability of insurance before making a purchase. In some cases, rates may be very high.

Also, make sure the property has access to utility services such as water, sewer, natural gas, electricity, etc.

7. Making assumptions about property boundaries

To avoid the Georgia buyers' situation, get a survey to learn the physical boundaries of a lot. Fences and landscaping don't always correspond with property lines.

8. Not getting a home inspection

Some buyers will skip this step to save hundreds but actually compromise tens of thousands.

Make sure to get a home inspection that provides information about the property's physical condition. This includes evaluating plumbing, wiring, heating/cooling systems, foundation, roof, exterior, stucco and more.

These are just a few of the pitfalls in the home-buying process. To learn more about what you need to be aware of when purchasing real estate, contact a local Realtor. Find one at UtahRealtors.com.