The median age of first-time home buyers has increased to 33, the oldest in records dating back to 1981, according to a National Association of Realtors report released Friday. The median age of all buyers also hit a fresh record, 47, increasing for a third straight year — and well above the median age of 31 in 1981.
While the median age of first-time home buyers only rose by one year, the increase reflects a variety of factors facing Americans searching for a home.
A nationwide shortage of affordable housing, coupled with lower mortgage rates, has stoked prices in cities from the coasts to the heartland. At the same time, student loans and other debts make it harder for Americans to save tens of thousands of dollars for a down payment, while tight lending standards can make getting a bank loan difficult for borrowers with less-than-stellar credit scores.
“Housing affordability is so difficult today, especially when coupled with rising rents and student loan debt, that they’re finding different ways to enter home ownership,” said Jessica Lautz, vice president of demographics and behavioral insights at the Realtors group in Washington.
The characteristics of home buyers have changed in recent years. The share of married couples has declined as unmarried couples and those purchasing as roommates has risen.
As buyers’ ages have increased, so have their incomes. The typical income of purchasers rose to $93,200 in 2018 as a lack of affordable options squeezed lower-income potential buyers out of the market.
Higher prices of homes have also changed how first-time buyers are entering the market. Nearly a third of first-time home buyers said they used a gift from a relative or friend to fund their down payment.
Builders have cited a shortage of affordable lots and labor as reasons to build fewer or bigger single-family homes, leaving America’s growing population to consider more of the existing housing stock. New homes as a proportion of all purchases fell to a low of 13% in records dating back to 1981.
The report reflects survey responses from 5,870 people who purchased a primary residence in the period between July 2018 and June 2019.
The conversation around homeownership in Mississauga and surrounding cities has been a challenging one, especially as prices remain high across all housing types in the city and surrounding municipalities (in fact, the average 905 condo is selling for over $400,000 and has been for sometime now).
But while it’s frustrating for experts—and non-experts who entered the market years ago—to tell prospective homebuyers that they’ll have to move to find an affordable housing, some people might be interested to know that there are indeed still places in Canada that offer affordable homes for single buyers with more modest salaries.
And a recent Zoocasa report reveals where solo homeowners-to-be on a budget might be able to purchase a home.
“While having a dual-income household can greatly improve purchasing power and the ability to qualify for a mortgage, that’s not to say homeownership isn’t in the cards for single-income earning buyers. In fact, according to recent calculations by Zoocasa in celebration of Single Awareness Day (February 15), there are a number of markets where it’s possible to buy a home on one income – and even have money left over,” says Penelope Graham, managing editor, Zoocasa.
Graham says that, to determine which markets were affordable, the average and benchmark home prices were sourced from regional real estate boards. It was then assumed the buyer would make a 20 per cent down payment and take out financing with a 3.29 per cent interest rate amortized over 30 years, to determine the minimum income required to qualify for a mortgage on the average home.
Those findings were then compared to median income data of “persons living alone who earned employment income” as reported by Statistics Canada.
So, where can solo buyers most easily afford a home?
Overall, single home buyers will see the best bang for their buck in Eastern Canada and the Prairie provinces, with Regina taking top spot out of 20 cities for greatest affordability.
There, a single buyer earning the median income of $58,823 would enjoy an income surplus of $20,025 on the average priced home of $284,424.
That’s followed by Saint John, where someone earning the median of $42,888 would see a surplus of $18,038 on a $181,576 home, and Edmonton, where earning $64,036 would net a $17,826 surplus on the average home price of $338,760.
MLS listings in Calgary, Lethbridge, Winnipeg, and Halifax also fall within the realm of affordability for single-income purchasers.
So, where are single buyers less likely to purchase a home? As expected, Zoocasa says the Greater Golden Horseshoe (which includes Toronto and the GTA), is out of most people’s budgets.
Graham says a buyer earning the median of $50,721 would fall a whopping $88,361 short on the average $1,019,600 for MLS listings in Vancouver. Toronto real estate listings are the second-least affordable with an average home price of $748,328; a buyer earning $55,221 would face an income gap of $46,858.
Victoria is the third least affordable with an average home price of $633,386, still $39,359 above what the relatively high median income of $86,400 could afford.
Other markets not considered affordable for single buyers include Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Montreal, and Ottawa.
Naturally, the housing market is more difficult for single millennials to navigate.
Zoocasa says the research also compared how earnings ranged by age group per location, and which demographic enjoyed the greatest affordability when purchasing a home. Across every market, Gen Xers (35 – 44 and 45 – 54 age brackets) enjoy the greatest earnings and purchasing power, with 11 markets considered within affordable reach (compared to 10 markets across all age groups).
Millennials (aged 25 – 34) had the least earning power in each city, behind Boomers (aged 55 – 64).
Overall, single home buyers aged 35 – 44 purchasing a home in Regina enjoyed the greatest affordability of all, with an income surplus of $24,215. A millennial purchasing in Vancouver had the least, facing a gap of $92,774.
Check out the infographics below to see which Canadian housing markets are most affordable for single buyers, courtesy of Zoocasa.
Top 5 Most Affordable Housing Markets for Single Home Buyers
1 – Regina
Average home price: $284,44
Income required: $38,798
Actual median income: $58,823
Income surplus: $20,025
2 – Saint John
Average home price: $181,576
Income required: 24,769
Actual median income: $42,888
Income surplus: $18,038
3 – Edmonton
Average home price: $338,760
Income required: $46,210
Actual median income: $64,036
Income surplus: $17,826
4 – Saskatoon
Average home price: $290,736
Income required: $39,659
Actual median income: $55,758
Income surplus: $16,099
5 – St. John’s
Average home price: $295,211
Income required: $40,270
Actual median income: $51,964
Income surplus: $11,694
5 Least Affordable Housing Markets for Single Buyers
Whether through ads or our own experiences dealing with banks and other lenders, Canadians are frequently reminded of the power of a single number, a credit score, in determining their financial options.
That slightly mysterious number can determine whether you’re able to secure a loan and how much extra it will cost to pay it back.
It can be the difference between having a credit card with a manageable interest rate or one that keeps you drowning in debt.
Not surprisingly, many Canadians want to know their score, and there are several web-based services that offer to provide it.
But a Marketplace investigation has found that the same consumer is likely to get significantly different credit scores from different websites — and chances are none of those scores actually matches the one lenders consult when deciding your financial fate.
‘That’s so strange’
We had three Canadians check their credit scores using four different services: Credit Karma and Borrowell, which are both free; and Equifax and TransUnion, which charge about $20 a month for credit monitoring, a plan that includes access to your credit score.
One of the participants was Raman Agarwal, a 58-year-old small business owner from Ottawa, who says he pays his bills on time and has little debt.
Canadian company Borrowell’s site said he had a “below average” credit score of 637. On Credit Karma, his score of 762 was labelled “very good.”
As for the paid sites, Equifax provided a “good” score of 684, while TransUnion said his 686 score was “poor.”
Agarwal was surprised by the inconsistent results.
“That’s so strange, because the scoring should be based on the same principles,” he said. “I don’t know why there’s a confusion like that.”
The other two participants also each received four different scores from the four different services. The largest gap between two scores for the same participant was 125 points.
The free websites, Borrowell and Credit Karma, purchase the scores they provide to consumers from Equifax and TransUnion, respectively, yet all four companies share a different score with a different proprietary name.
Credit scores are calculated based on many factors, including payment history; credit utilization, which is how much of a loan you owe versus how much you have available to you; money owing; how long you’ve been borrowing; and the types of credit you have. But these factors can be weighted differently depending on the credit bureau or lender, resulting in different scores.
So, which credit score is giving Agarwal the clearest picture of his credit standing?
Marketplace learned that none of the scores the four websites provide is necessarily the same as the one lenders are most likely to use when determining Agarwal’s creditworthiness.
We spoke with multiple lenders in the financial, automotive and mortgage sectors, who all said they would not accept any of the scores our participants received from the four websites.
“So, we don’t know what these scores represent,” said Vince Gaetano, principal broker at MonsterMortgage.ca. “They’re not necessarily reliable from my perspective.”
All consumer credit score platforms have small fine-print messages on their sites explaining that lenders might consult a different score from the one provided.
‘Soft’ vs. ‘hard’ credit check
The score that most Canadian lenders use is called a FICO score, previously known as the Beacon score. FICO, which is a U.S. company, sells its score to both Equifax and TransUnion. FICO says 90 per cent of Canadian lenders use it, including major banks.
But Canadian consumers cannot access their FICO score on their own.
To find out his FICO score, Agarwal had to agree to what’s known as a “hard” credit check. That’s where a business runs a credit check as though a customer is applying for a loan.
Lenders are contractually obligated not to share a copy of the report FICO provides with the customer. They can only discuss the information and provide insight.
A hard check comes with risk. Unlike the “soft” check Agarwal agreed to from the four websites, a hard check could negatively impact his credit score.
As Credit Karma’s website explains, “Multiple hard inquiries in a short period could lead lenders and credit card issuers to consider you a higher-risk customer, as it suggests you may be short on cash or getting ready to rack up a lot of debt.”
Mortgage broker Vince Gaetano offered to do a hard credit check for Agarwal, as if he was applying for a loan, so he could learn his FICO score.
Agarwal took him up on the offer and was stunned to learn his FICO score was 829 — nearly 200 points higher than the lowest score he received online.
“Oh my god!” Agarwal said when he heard the news. “I am really happy, but totally surprised.”
Doug Hoyes, co-founder of Hoyes, Michalos and Associates Inc., one of the largest personal insolvency firms in Canada, was also surprised by the disparity between Agarwal’s FICO score and the other scores he’d received.
“How can you be poor somewhere and fantastic somewhere else?”
Marketplace asked all four credit score companies why Agarwal’s FICO score was so different from the ones provided on their sites.
No one could provide a detailed answer. Equifax and TransUnion did say their scores are used by lenders, but they wouldn’t name any, citing proprietary reasons.
Credit Karma declined to comment. However, on its customer service website, it says the credit score it provides to consumers is a “widely used scoring model by lenders.”
‘A complicated system’
The free services, Borrowell and Credit Karma, make money by arranging loan and credit card offers for customers who visit their sites. Borrowell told Marketplace the credit score it provides is used by the company itself to offer loans directly from Borrowell. The company could not confirm whether any of its lending partners also use the score.
“So there are many different types of credit scores in Canada … and they’re calculated very differently,” said Andrew Graham, CEO of Borrowell. “It’s a complicated system, and we’re the first to say that it’s frustrating for consumers. We’re trying to help add transparency to it and help consumers navigate it.”
From Agarwal’s perspective, the credit companies are simply using the scoring system as a marketing tool.
“There should be one score,” he said. “If they are running an algorithm, there should be one score, no matter what you do, how you do it, should not change that score.”
The FICO score is also the most popular score in the U.S. Unlike in Canada, Americans can access their score easily by purchasing it on FICO’s website, or through FICO’s Open Access Program, without any risk of it impacting their credit rating.
FICO told Marketplace it would like to bring the Open Access Program to Canada, but it’s up to Canadian lenders.
“We are open to working with any lender and their credit bureau partner of choice to enable FICO Score access to the lender’s customers,” FICO said in an email.
Hoyes, the insolvency expert, suggests instead of focusing on your credit score, a better approach to monitoring your financial status would be to shift attention to your credit report and ensuring its accuracy.
All four websites Marketplace looked at provide credit reports to consumers.
A credit report is the file that describes your financial situation. It lists bank accounts, credit cards, inquiries from lenders who have requested your report, bankruptcies, student loans, mortgages, whether you pay your credit card bill on time, and other debt.
Hoyes said consumers are trying too hard to have the perfect credit score. The fact is, some activities that could boost a credit score, such as getting a new credit card or taking on a loan, aren’t necessarily the best financial decisions.
“My advice is to focus on what is better for your financial health, not what is best for the lender’s financial health.”
He said paying off debt and increasing savings is a better idea than focusing solely on the factors that can increase your credit score.
You focusing on this one metric, that isn’t the same thing the lender is using anyways, is really pointless, and I think it leads to bad decisions.– Doug Hoyes, Hoyes, Michalos and Associates Inc.
He points to billionaire investor Warren Buffett, the third richest person in the world, as an example.
“Would you rather lend to Warren Buffett, who’s got … cash in the bank but has a lousy credit score because he’s never borrowed and hasn’t built up any history, or some guy who has five credit cards and he constantly … moves the balance from one to the other and keeps his utilization under 20 per cent?”
The real estate, mortgage and auto lenders Marketplace spoke with said they look at more than just your credit score before making a lending decision. They also consider things like your income, your history with their company, the size of a downpayment, and other factors not reflected in your score.
For Hoyes, those factors are much more important than a three-digit number.
“You focusing on this one metric, that isn’t the same thing the lender is using anyways, is really pointless, and I think it leads to bad decisions.”
The good news, according to Borrowell CEO Andrew Graham, is that if you’re doing things like paying your bills on time and not maxing out your credit cards, you will see improvement in whatever credit score you track.
Mortgage Pre-Qualification vs Mortgage Pre-Approval vs Mortgage Approval
What are the differences between each stage of the mortgage process?
By Kara KuryllowiczSeptember 18, 2019
In early 2019, several Canadian banks launched digital apps that offer home buyers easy, hassle-free mortgage pre-qualification in 60 seconds or less. Sounds great, right? The problem is many consumers believe a mortgage pre-qualification is a lot like a mortgage pre-approval or mortgage approval. As a result, prospective home buyers and sellers are left expecting the financial institution associated with the app to lend them hundreds of thousands of dollars, despite the fact they simply keyed their names, addresses, contact information and gross income into various online fields.
Getting Mortgage Approval
“Every week, as many as 40% of my new clients come to me because they’ve just bought a home and discovered that mortgage pre-qualification is meaningless and that they do not have the financing required for the purchase,” says Tracy Valko, owner and principal broker of Dominion Lending Centres Valko Financial Ltd., and a director at Mortgage Professionals of Canada.
Let’s get real: A mortgage pre-qualification gives the financial institution warm leads (names, contact information, purchasing timeline) and tells consumers how much money a financial institution might loan them. There is no way any financial institution will actually lend consumers hundreds of thousands of dollars just because they spent 45 seconds with the company’s mortgage pre-qualification tool.
Lenders do everything they can to ensure the borrower will repay the loan. A mortgage pre-approval looks at how an individual manages his/her money to determine that person’s creditworthiness. The next step is the mortgage approval which assesses that specific person’s ability to repay a loan of a certain amount at a set interest rate on a particular home.
“Always get a mortgage pre-approval before you start searching for a home and have a mortgage approval in place before you waive your financing condition on the offer – back out of a deal after it’s firm and you could be sued by the seller.” says Valko. “A mortgage pre-approval will tell consumers and their realtors what they can realistically afford to buy.”
Let’s further define the terms consumers need to fully understand before they commit to a real estate agent and start shopping for a home.
What is Mortgage Pre-Qualification?
It takes less than 60 seconds because it requests only the most basic information, whether it’s submitted to an online app or a financial representative. Mortgage pre-qualification never requires supporting documentation that proves the consumer actually has a full-time job, is paid a weekly salary and has earned a good credit score. At best, a mortgage pre-qualification can provide a very loose, broad estimate of a consumer’s home-buying power based on the consumer’s unverified data. Because the consumer typically inputs the information into an online tool, it takes just seconds for the software, not an experienced, professional underwriter, to pre-qualify a consumer for a mortgage.
If consumers notice and bother to read the apps’ fine print or legal disclaimers, they’ll likely see a statement like this one: “This is not a mortgage approval or pre-approval. You must submit a separate application for a mortgage approval or a mortgage pre-approval and a full credit report.”
In other words, they’re not actually promising you a dime, let alone enough the hundreds of thousands of dollars you’ll likely need to buy a home anywhere in Canada.
What is Mortgage Pre-Approval?
In general, it will take two to five business days to investigate an individual’s financial circumstances and the risk that a person might represent to the lender. The underwriter will need the basics, such as name, address and contact information in addition to detailed data on their income, assets (e.g. stocks, RRSPs, property, vehicles, savings), liabilities (e.g. debt, loans, mortgages) and their credit rating and report as well as the available down payment. Supporting documentation may be required to prove any or all of the above.
Unlike a pre-qualifying app, lenders’ underwriters may request a letter of employment, a Notice of Assessment, pay stubs, or T4 for the two most recent years as well as documentation indicating the down payment is available. The lender or mortgage broker will also require the consumers’ permission to pull credit scores and credit reports from organizations such as Equifax.
Your credit score, typically 300 to 800+, is based on feedback from lenders who confirm that you do or don’t pay your bills in full and on time every month. The credit report includes your name, address, social insurance number and date of birth as well as your credit history, for example, your debts and assets and whether you’ve ever been sent to collection or declared bankruptcy.
“Lenders want to know how well or how poorly you manage your money and will be looking for patterns of insufficient, late and missed payments,” says Valko.
A mortgage pre-approval is generally valid for up to 120 days at a specific interest rate unless the consumers’ circumstances change, for example, employment status, down payment, or income. For example, a consumer may not realize it, but their probationary status with a new employer, whether it’s three, six or 12 months, does matter to lenders. Likewise, a move from a salaried to a contract or self-employed position will also be seen as a higher risk.
“I’ve had clients believe they were full time, salaried employees, then discover they’re still on probation when we start underwriting,” says Valko. “An electrician client left his full-time salaried position to work independently and didn’t realize it negated his mortgage pre-approval, which was based on the guaranteed weekly paycheck versus the sporadic earnings associated with self-employment.”
What is Mortgage Approval?
This is the big one. Once consumers have identified the homes they want to purchase, they need mortgage approval to buy that specific home. Lenders assess the age and condition of the homes and consider comparable homes to confirm the price being paid is fair and market value. The mortgage approval is valid until the closing date unless the buyers’ circumstances change.
“Only the mortgage approval accounts for property specifics, such as taxes or condo fees, so give your underwriter/lender time to ensure the numbers previously used are still valid and that the property is acceptable to the lender,” says Valko.
If you’re serious about the home search and purchase process, skip the mortgage pre-qualification apps. Instead, take the time and make the effort to get mortgage pre-approval, then find the home suits you best, then get mortgage approval to close the deal. Then? Enjoy your new keys.
Source: REW.ca – Kara KuryllowiczSeptember 18, 2019
My husband and I bought our first home three years ago, and I’ll admit we made some mistakes along the way.
Here are 5 hard lessons we learned as first-time homebuyers.
1. We bought a very old house. Before we bought the home, we had it inspected by a reputable home inspector. In his report, he suggested that we have the house’s foundation assessed by an engineer. But we didn’t do that. Why? We were in too much of a rush to buy the house.
Lesson? Pay attention to the inspection report. After living in the home for about a year and a half, I called an engineer who told us a foundation wall had to be replaced–and soon. It wasn’t cheap.
2. Our agent told us that upping our offer by a few thousand dollars would only mean an extra $40, $50 or $60 a month on our mortgage. It doesn’t sound like much, but if interest rates go up spending thousands more on our home will hurt.
Lesson? Once you figure out your maximum price, stick to it. This is one thing we actually did well. In the end our offer was accepted at the price we were willing to pay, but upping our bid could’ve made paying the mortgage a lot tougher.
3. When you’ve been a renter for most of your life, it’s a shock to suddenly find yourself responsible for repairs. We hired a roofer who did a really bad job, and we had to pay another roofer to do the work a second time. Then I had to go to small claims court to try getting my money back from the first one.
Lesson?Shop around before hiring a contractor. I should have paid more attention to a couple of negative online reviews. You can also look up court decisions online to see if other customers have had problems.
4. We were able to put a 20% down payment on our home and had about $10,000 set aside for closing costs, taxes, home insurance and other expenses. It wasn’t enough.
Lesson?Set money aside, then set some more aside. You also need to budget for the unexpected. In the first year, we spent several hundred dollars on a new sump pump after our crawl space flooded. Last year, we spent a few hundred dollars on an exterminator for mice.
5. This past winter, while our foundation wall was being dug up and replaced, I called a real estate agent to talk about possibly putting our house up for sale. I was pretty fed up with the seemingly unending problems and stress. The good news was that our home had gone up in value and we could make a profit. Though we’ll stay put for now, at least we have an exit plan–as long as the housing market stays strong.
Lesson? Have an exit plan. Hopefully these hard-earned lessons can help you become homeowners. Or maybe decide to remain renters. Good luck!
Our gallery of home inspection nightmares (below) is good for a laugh, but a home inspection is serious business. It’s the buyer’s opportunity to make sure that the house they’re about to purchase doesn’t hold any expensive surprises.
A typical home inspection includes a check of a house’s structural and mechanical condition, from the roof to the foundation, as well as tests for the presence of radon gas and the detection of wood-destroying insects. Depending on the seriousness of what the inspection uncovers, the buyer can walk away from the deal (most contracts include an inspection contingency in the event of major flaws) or negotiate with the seller for the necessary repairs.
These are the red flags that should send a buyer back to the negotiating table, according to home improvement expert Tom Kraeutler of The Money Pit.
1. Termites and other live-in pests: The home you’ve fallen in love with may also be adored by the local termite population. The sooner termites are detected, the better. The same goes for other wood-devouring pests like powder-post beetles. Keep in mind that getting rid of the intruders is just the first step. Once the problem has been addressed, have a pest control expert advise you on what needs to be done in order to prevent their return.
2. Drainage issues: Poor drainage can lead to wood rot, wet basements, perennially wet crawlspaces and major mold growth. Problems are usually caused by missing or damaged gutters and downspouts, or improper grading at ground level. Correcting grading and replacing gutters is a lot less costly than undoing damage caused by the accumulation of moisture.
3. Pervasive mold: Where moisture collects, so grows mold, a threat to human health as well as to a home’s structure. Improper ventilation can be the culprit in smaller, more contained spaces, such as bathrooms. But think twice about buying a property where mold is pervasive — that’s a sign of long-term moisture issues.
4. Faulty foundation: A cracked or crumbling foundation calls for attention and repair, with costs ranging from moderate to astronomically expensive. The topper of foundation expenses is the foundation that needs to be replaced altogether — a possibility if you insist on shopping “historic” properties. Be aware that their beautiful details and old-fashioned charms may come with epic underlying expenses.
6. Worn-out roofing: Enter any sale agreement with an awareness of your own cost tolerance for roof repair versus replacement. The age and type of roofing material will figure into your home inspector’s findings, as well as the price tag of repair or replacement. An older home still sheltered by asbestos roofing material, for example, requires costly disposal processes to prevent release of and exposure to its dangerous contents.
7. Toxic materials: Asbestos may be elsewhere in a home’s finishes, calling for your consideration of containment and replacement costs. Other expensive finish issues include lead paint and, more recently, Chinese drywall, which found its way into homes built during the boom years of 2004 and 2005. This product’s sulfur off-gassing leads to illness as well as damage to home systems, so you’ll need to have it completely removed and replaced if it’s found in the home that you’re hoping to buy.
8. Outdated wiring: Home inspectors will typically open and inspect the main electrical panel, looking for overloaded circuits, proper grounding and the presence of any trouble spots like aluminum branch circuit wiring, a serious fire hazard.
Waiving a home inspection is like purchasing a used car on Craigslist without taking a look under the hood — you’re likely to run into issues down the road. A new survey from the online home improvement marketplace, Porch, reveals that 86 percent of home inspections uncover one or more problems that need to be addressed. While hiring a home inspector will set you back about $377 on average, their expertise could save you from buying a lemon or shelling out thousands of dollars in future repairs.
Prospective homebuyers can use the information provided by a home inspector to negotiate a lower sales price, accounting for the cost of repairs or replacing a feature altogether. Of the 1,000 individuals surveyed by Porch who hired a home inspector, 37 percent submitted a revised offer with help from their real estate agent, saving an average of $14,000 off the listing price of their new home. That’s no small chunk of change!
Here we examine the most-flagged home inspection issues buyers can use to negotiate the best sale price.
Photo: James Bombales
1. Roof – flagged in 19.7% of reports
Roofs with asphalt or cedar shingles have an average lifespan of 20 years whereas metal roofs only need to be replaced every 50 to 75 years. Your home inspector will look for signs of water damage, mold or algae, and take note of any sagging or missing shingles.
2. Electrical – flagged in 18.7% of reports
If you’re looking to purchase a home built prior to the 1950s, you’ll want to inquire about its electrical wiring. Knob-and-tube wiring, which was popular from the 1880s to the 1940s, can cause electrical shocks and fire. Other issues to take note of include exposed wiring, ungrounded wire receptacles and paint on electrical outlets.
Photo: James Bombales
3. Windows – flagged in 18.4% of reports
While broken windows are a pretty obvious spot, your home inspector may conduct a simple test to check for air leaks. However, there’s no guarantee the home owners will agree to repair the window seals — some consider this cosmetic, rather than structural.
4. Gutters – flagged in 16.9% of reports
Your home inspector will want to make sure the gutters are in good working condition, assessing their size, any damage, and how far water is directed away from the house.
Photo: James Bombales
5. Plumbing – flagged in 13.6% of reports
Plumbing problems can quickly add up, costing an unsuspecting homeowner thousands of dollars. With a flashlight in hand, your home inspector will scan for potential leaks, polybutylene piping, DIY projects gone wrong, tree root damage, and more.
6. Branches overhanging roof – flagged in 13.3% of reports
Having an old-growth tree in your front yard might seem like a selling point, but it can actually cause a lot of damage if not properly maintained. Branches can rip off roof shingles, leaves can pile up and clog up your gutters, and heavy limbs can come crashing down into your living room.
Home inspectors will evaluate the condition of a fence that lines the property. But again, this is one of those “choose your battles” situations. Are you willing to risk losing out on your dream home because a few pickets have gone missing? Probably not.
8. Water heater – flagged in 12.2% of reports
While a rickety fence may be no big deal, a busted up water heater certainly is. Home inspectors check for things like water leaks, sediment buildup, corrosion on the pipes, and low water pressure.
Photo: James Bombales
9. Driveways, sidewalks, patios, entrance landing – flagged in 11.9% of reports
Cracks in your driveway or patio are pretty much inevitable. That being said, you’ll want the home inspector to ensure water isn’t seeping into those crevices. If major issues do turn up, you may be able to seek compensation for those repairs.
10. Air conditioning – flagged in 9.9% of reports
According to the Porch survey, most homebuyers negotiate only $500 for AC repairs, but the actual costs are much higher — think thousands of dollars, not hundreds.
Photo: James Bombales
11. Exterior paint – flagged in 9.6% of reports
If the house was constructed before 1979, your inspector will likely conduct a lead paint test. Additionally, if the exterior paint is peeling, some lenders (like the Federal Housing Administration and Veterans Affairs) will not approve the loan due to concerns over health and safety.
12. Foundation issues/cracks – flagged in 8.9% of reports
Home inspectors can look for obvious signs of foundation problems like cracks in basement walls, damaged bricks and uneven floors. If you and your home inspector suspect the problems are serious, you may want to bring in an engineer. But consider it money well spent — foundation fixes can cost $10,000 or more. Gulp.