Buying a house is a huge decision with many things to consider and tips to glean. In 2021 6.1 million homes were sold. And yet, in a market with low inventory and multiple competing offers on so many properties, potential buyers are still walking away over deal-breakers.
According to the most recent National Association of Realtors Confidence Index Survey, eight percent of contracts were terminated. The top reason for killing the deal: problems discovered in the home inspection.
“Major issues — foundation, cracked walls, etc. — scream that … the home is going to fall apart,” says Michelle Schwartz, managing partner of The Agency in Los Angeles County’s San Fernando Valley. “It becomes a safety concern. It’s easier to walk away. Buyers want to feel like it’s safe and healthy to be in the home.”
A HomeAdvisor survey of 2,000 homeowners who bought within the last five years reveals these home-buying deal-breakers:
Damaged or discolored siding, chipped paint or deteriorating bricks do not make a good first impression. Jeremy Stein of Sotheby’s International Realty, Downtown Manhattan Brokerage sees this with New York City townhomes.
“Exterior work is scary for potential buyers who assume discoloration or flaws will require expensive repainting and time-consuming repairs that may even trigger landmark preservation committees to get involved, adding a layer of bureaucracy,” he says.
Deferred maintenance is another red flag. “If (buyers) see things have been noticeably ignored, what about things they can’t see?” says Emily Johnson of Sotheby’s International Realty, Los Feliz Brokerage in Los Angeles. “If you’ve owned your home for more than five years, hire someone to repair and paint the house a fresh, new color.”
Jason Krochalis of Kienlen Lattmann Sothebys International Realty, Morristown, N.J. encouraged a seller client to weatherproof their home before listing.
“Out of 30 windows, 21 required significant repair or replacement of the trim or siding,” he says. “That’s a lot of time on a ladder! Even the enthusiastic DIYer will see this as taking too much time, and possibly too much risk.”
Cracked Walls or Ceilings
Cracks can be covered by framed art during a buyer walk-through, but an inspector might flag them.
Krochalis and a buyer client noticed a ceiling crack next to a water stain. “We were told it was from an HVAC problem that was fixed and the owner just hadn’t had time to address the cosmetic damage,” Krochalis recalls. “Homeowners should feel confident the issue is truly fixed.”
Adds Johnson: “…….