House flipping has gained notoriety from TV shows but chances are the person who flips your potential future home won’t have a TV crew documenting the work. Horror stories abound of house flips that hid major problems, only to be revealed months after the new homeowners moved in. It can be tricky to discern a good flipped home from a bad flipped home, simply because contracting for flipping is largely unregulated, which makes it hard to tell who has the adequate skill set and experience.
When considering a flipped home, it’s best to tour with a skeptical eye. Don’t focus on your favorite details in the updated kitchen and bathrooms too much, and follow these steps to catch any faults in the home that may be lurking beneath the surface.
Check the Flipped Home
Check all the appliances and faucets. The majority of work in flipped homes is often in kitchens and bathrooms, and turning on the water in those rooms can be a quick indicator of any plumbing issues.
Turning on faucets will is a good start and will signal if there are issues with the water pressure, or in some cases, if the hardware hasn’t been hooked up to a water source at all.
Look under the cabinets. House flippers often focus on the cosmetic appeal of the home rather than the functionality. Check the cabinets beneath sinks and other the areas you can easily open to see the beneath-the-surface work.
Look under the kitchen sink, particularly at the garbage disposal, if you see that the drain lines, disposal and wiring have been spray painted, it’s a sign the flipper or contractor is covering up a dated disposal, an appliance he says is often neglected in a flip.
Eye the baseboards and paint. When it comes to basic cosmetic work, trust your instincts, if baseboards or paint lines look uneven, it can be a sign that the flipper made shortcuts throughout the house.
Ask to see the attic. An unfinished attic is not typically a place people look on a home tour, but a quick stop could reveal what may be lurking behind that new drywall in every room.
Walk over to the water heater. If it looks old, it probably is old. Water heaters are a major expense when it comes to fixing up a home, if it’s a few years old, no big deal. But if it’s rusted out, and it looks terrible, then you’re going to want to calculate that you work into your contract to have a new hot water heater.
The appearance of plumbing around the water heater along with other visible pipes in the home can also indicate whether plumbing work was recently done. If pipe sections are made of different materials, it could mean only part of the pipe was fixed. Rusting is another sure sign of old pipes that need attention.
One of the biggest mistakes a homebuyer can make when purchasing a recently flipped home is skipping the inspection process. But it can be all too tempting when everything you see is new. Homebuyers should hire a professional to inspect the home before the closing process begins. That way, it won’t be too late to cancel the purchase if the inspector finds leaks or major problems.
Furthermore, to ensure there is no bias toward the seller, make sure the inspector is someone you hire and vet. A thorough inspection could be a far less expensive way to vet your home than to find yourself underwater – both literally and figuratively – when you purchase a rehabbed home from investors.
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