Buying A House With Foundation Problems
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So you've discovered potential foundation issues with the house you're interested in buying. This shouldn't be an automatic deal-breaker, but it will require further investigation by a qualified structural engineer to diagnosethe severity of the damage.
Depending on the scale of the problem, foundation issues could actually present an opportunity to get a better deal on the house. Your agent may be able to negotiate a lower sale price or concessions that more than compensate for the associated repaircosts.
This guide covers everything you need to know about buying a house with foundation damage. Learn how to identify common issues and estimate repair costs, how these problems can affect your mortgage options, and how to turn a headache into an advantageat the negotiating table.
Even if the repairs are covered by a transferable warranty, that warranty only applies to the section of the foundation the seller fixed. So you should still treat the home like any other property with foundation issues.
In isolation, a single one of these characteristics might not necessarily reveal underlying foundation damage. But if you identify multiple traits at a single house, it's a good indication you should have an expert perform a more thorough inspection.
Foundations rarely fail overnight. Most frequently, the root causes of structural problems originate during the house's construction. Improper soil preparation, poor design choices, and inferior materials all lay the groundwork for foundation issuesthat could take years to manifest.
Short answer: a home inspector might spot foundation problems, but they aren't required to. If you're concerned about foundation damage, you should pay a structural engineer to perform a thorough evaluation of the home's structural integrity.
The inspection contingency will allow you to void the purchase contract within a specified period if an inspection reveals problems the seller didn't disclose (and probably didn't even know about) upfront.
Note: Home insurance policies usually only cover foundation repairs when the damage occurs as a result of a covered risk, such as a fire or sudden plumbing leak. So don't buy a home with minor-to-moderate foundation issues and expect your insuranceto pay for the repairs later if the damage grows more severe.
If your contract included a home inspection or home appraisal contingency, then you may be able to walk away without losing your earnest money deposit. But if you made a non-contingent offer, you could lose your deposit unless you can prove that the seller was aware of the problems and did not disclose them to you.
A house with significant foundation issues might be a deal-breaker if you're applying for a government-backed loan, like a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or Veterans Affairs (VA) loan. These loans have strict structural requirements for homes and specify that a house must have an undamaged exterior, roof, and foundation.
A home inspector takes a close look at the structural integrity of the home you want to buy. Part of that inspection means looking for cracks, moisture, water damage and window/door problems, which could reveal that the foundation of the home is shifting or sinking. These observations might indicate a problem with the foundation.
These cracks can simply be repaired and should be since the value of a home is a crucial factor to consider for borrowers going through the approval process. Assuming the foundation is still sound, those small cracks can be patched by a professional, who will likely also recommend that you grade the soil around the foundation to divert water from the house. According to HomeAdvisor, these minimal repairs could cost as little as $500.
Large cracks indicate the foundation is undergoing a considerable shift, possibly revealing bigger structural problems with the home. Pay particular attention to horizontal cracks in the foundation, or cracks that look like stairs in exterior bricks.
Was there a seller condition report Most states require sellers to complete a detailed description of the condition of the property. Such a document could help you if the seller declared there was no problem with the foundation and you had evidence that the seller knew to the contrary. You will have to do some sleuthing to see if you can uncover evidence that demonstrates the seller had such knowledge. The receipt from the foundation contractor that made repairs earlier may help. Neighbors that live close to your home may have observed a contractor working there, or recall the owner complaining about the foundation. The tenant that moved out before you moved in may have complained to the owner.
A foundation problem is one of the most intimidating things you can encounter when buying a house. If you agree to buy a home after foundation issues have already been detected and documented, you are assuming the responsibility (and cost) of addressing those issues. You cannot later try to hold the previous owner accountable. Also, you may not be eligible for certain types of financing such as government-backed loans, which require that the home be structurally sound and free of major issues. On the upside, you can use this as a major bargaining chip to renegotiate the price.
Any foundation problems discovered during a home inspection must be disclosed by the seller during the buying process. Ask the seller if they are aware of any issues and have them show you any home inspection reports that have already been completed.
This article will discuss the necessity of inspections (and who should perform them), common foundation problems and their causes, residential foundation repair (including cost), signs you might have a foundation problem, and more.
The next thing we do is use drafting paper to layout the house. Once the layout is complete we begin taking elevations of the property using something called a Zip Level. We also photograph any signs of foundation issues such as exterior or interior cracks, sloping floors, foundation wall cracks, deteriorating posts, screw jacks, etc.
Talk to your lender and find out if there are any restrictions or requirements with foundation repairs to get the loan. You can or might need to change from a more restrictive loan/lender to a less restrictive loan/lender to get the deal done in some cases. Your ability to do this depends on your financial situation.
One safety issue that was mentioned earlier in the article is that of doors not locking or latching properly. If this is happening on an exterior door, there are certainly some temporary workarounds that you could use to keep your home secure while you wait and see if you want to move forward with foundation repair down the line.
If you want to peek in on what a seller might be thinking about during this process, check out this article about selling a home with foundation problems. See the other side of the coin for an edge and extra insight!
Over a period of time all homes settle into the ground. In certain areas of the country, like North Texas, which has clay soils and there are periods of intense heat followed by months of very cold weather, the shifting of the soil can be particularly troublesome. Clay soils expand and contract more than many other types of soil and cause the ground to shift. As a result, home foundations will move little by little for years. Over a period of time, the foundation piers under the home sink further and further into the ground. Because not all of the foundation piers sink at exactly the same time, the house will eventually not be level. When buying a house had previously foundation problems and repairs in the DFW area you need to know when the repairs were done, by who, how many piers were installed. and much more.
Doors That Are Difficult To Open And Close As foundation damage progresses, door frames can shift. These shifts are insignificant at first, but over time doors (and windows too!) can become difficult to open and close. In the kitchen, cabinet doors may simply hang open all the time in a home with foundation problems.
If you fall in love with a home that has foundation issues, all is not lost. As a buyer, your first step should always be to inspect a home once your offer has been accepted. The absolute best course of action is to see the results of a home inspection, even if you can spot a foundation issue on your own. An inspection will show you if something is a potential hazard and living in the home could put you at risk. It can also show you the estimated cost to repair it.
Buyers then have two choices: they can decide to accept the potential cost and use that in negotiation with the sellers, or use this as a chance to walk from the sale. Since foundation issues are some of the most expensive (and scariest) to repair, home sellers who know a buyer is still interested may be more willing to negotiate with the existing buyer rather than risk losing the sale.
Since some structural problems are more concerning than others, you may not need to immediately worry about buying a home with foundation issues. Not all foundation issues will impact the home value; it comes down to the type of damage, how severe it is and how much it costs to repair it.
Still not sure if buying a house with foundation issues is right for you Working with an experienced real estate agent can help you make the right decision for you and your budget. Reach out to one of our Verified Partner Agents to start your search.
Signs of foundation issues Home inspection Is it safe to live in a house with a bad foundation Homeowners insurance Mortgage options Cost to repair a bad foundation When to walk away from foundation issues
However, larger cracks can be a sign of serious foundation problems beyond settling. If you think you may have serious foundation problems, you should contact a professional for an assessment. However, you can use these numbers as a rough guide:
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