Buying a House: What to Check Before Making an Offer

Contractor inspects home with damaged foundation and cracked walls
Buying a house always comes with risk. These simple tips can help first-time homebuyers even before they make an offer and spend money on an inspector. (DepositPhotos)

Buying a house naturally comes with risk, and hiring a qualified home inspector is the best way to lower your chances of buying a money pit.

Regardless, these simple tips can help first-time homebuyers even before they make an offer and spend money on an inspector.

HVAC serial number on Lennox air conditioner — look at this before buying a house
If an HVAC’s serial number looks confusing, don’t worry. Many websites can help decode the manufacture date.

1.  Verify the HVAC’s Age Before Buying a House

Probably the biggest gripe of new home buyers is a really old heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.

Now, the average life expectancy of the average HVAC system is 15 to 20 years. And the cost to replace an air conditioner and furnace can range from $5,000 to $20,000 depending on the size, efficiency and brand.

So, before you buy a house, find out the age of the HVAC, take a picture of the date plate on the exterior A/C condenser, and the date plate on the furnace (or indoor air handler). New systems usually display the manufacturing year on the date plate, but with older systems, it appears in the serial number.

Don’t worry if you see a serial number; you can search for websites that help buyers decode the serial number and to find the age.

Roof with missing shingles — avoid this when searching for a house to buy
Curling, deteroriating and missing shingles are red flags that could indicate the need for a new roof.

2. Look at the Roof Before Making an Offer

Another important aspect of buying a house is the roof condition, so look at the shingles from the ground. Closely check to see if any shingles are missing, curling or deteriorated.

In addition, if the asphalt shingles have faded or look whitish, it usually means they are older. New asphalt shingles almost always have a dark appearance.

The average lifespan of three-tab asphalt shingles is around 15 to 25 years.


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