Homebuyers Beware!

Four Things Homebuyers Need to Look For

When buying a home, many homebuyers fall so deeply in love with a property they don’t stop to think about the things that could be wrong with it. This is especially true with older homes. The historic charm and appeal beckon while a money pit may lurk beneath the surface. If you’re looking to purchase an older home, make sure you check these four things before making an offer.

Well and Septic

Most older homes are serviced by well and septic instead of city water and sewer. If you’re purchasing a home with a well and septic system, you need to make sure they are both in proper working order. When writing an offer, make sure it is contingent upon a well inspection, septic inspection and water test. If you don’t have these things inspected and something is wrong, it can literally cost tens of thousands of dollars to fix it.

Lead Paint

Homes that are built prior to 1978 must have a lead paint disclosure signed by the seller. If the seller knows there is lead paint on the property, he or she must disclose it. However, if the seller isn’t sure, he or he can simply state that they don’t know whether lead paint was used on the property and that will suffice on the disclosure. If the seller states they don’t know whether the property has lead paint, make the purchase agreement contingent on lead test results.


Many homes that were built prior to 1980 contain asbestos. If you are purchasing a home built prior to that year, ask the seller if there is any asbestos on the property. If they don’t know, require they have an asbestos test performed as part of the purchase agreement.

Oil Tanks

Many older homes are heated by oil and that oil is stored in oil tanks. Some oil tanks are underground and some are located in basements. If the oil tank is leaking, it could cause some serious problems and if the tank leaks onto another neighbor’s property, it could set you up for a lawsuit. Make sure any oil tanks on the property are inspected and tested for leaks as a contingency to the purchase offer.

Who Pays For It

Many times, you can get the sellers to pay for the tests you want performed. However, if a seller stands firm and won’t pay for some of the testing, you should either pay for the testing yourself or look elsewhere for a home. These tests may cost money, but they cost a lot less than fixing the problems they check for.