6 Home Issues that Could Be Deal Breakers for Buyers (and Sellers)

Getting your home ready to list for sale? Looking for your next home to invest in? 

Every house has its issues, and home buyers and sellers must decide what they can live with, what they’re willing to fix — and when it’s time to walk away. These common concerns can become deal breakers in the right circumstances, but they can also be negotiated to create a welcome deal for buyers and sellers alike.

Here’s what you need to know (and do) to position yourself to buy or sell a property for the right price.

1. Foundation Damage 

A home’s foundation is key to its structural soundness and overall value. Some foundational issues are due to minor settling and are normal. Deep cracks and signs of leaks are of bigger concern. 

If you’re buying: A formal, expert inspection can help pinpoint how serious a house’s foundation damage is, and what it would take to repair it. 

If you’re selling: Be willing to either repair it or lower the asking price substantially, so this doesn’t have to break the deal.

2. Plumbing Problems 

One of the most important aspects of a house is its water supply. Whether plumbing pipes are old, or there’s an issue with a septic tank or well water, it’s important to address them before a purchase or sale goes through.

If you’re buying: Look for low water pressure, stains, and saggy flooring near sinks and toilets. You may not want to invest in a home with old-fashioned polybutylene (PB) pipes (installed in the 1970s-80s and prone to major breaks). 

If you’re selling: Make sure well water’s quality meets EPA standards. Be prepared to fix septic issues, because most buyers won’t deal with the high costs and time-consuming nature of these repairs.

3. Pest Infestation 

Homeownership often comes with visits from unwanted critters — including raccoons and squirrels in attics, birds making nests in gutters, and insects like carpenter ants, termites, and wood bees making their home in siding and decking.

If you’re buying: Pest damage isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker, but it can be costly to remediate if it’s been allowed to go on for years unchecked. Be sure to negotiate remediation into the bid you make.

If you’re selling: Be prepared to make concessions and address issues. For example, raccoon droppings in the attic are highly unhealthy and must be cleaned up by professionals with protective gear. You’ll be expected to pay for that or lower the asking price.

4. Roof Repairs 

Roofing is a major structural element that can protect the home or leave it vulnerable to damaging leaks. Old roofing may need a full replacement (which can be pricey), but even minor damage such as missing shingles should be addressed quickly.

If you’re buying: Have an inspector check the roof and estimate how many years of life are left in it. If it’s a year or two away from replacement, this might be a deal-breaker unless the seller will negotiate.

If you’re selling: If small repairs are needed, make them so you can reasonably set a higher asking price. If the roof is nearing replacement time, be ready to negotiate the cost of a new roof into the deal.

5. Electrical Issues 

Wiring is a major system that needs to function safely. Damaged wiring puts a home and the family living there at risk of fires, and that is something you should not ignore.

If you’re buying: Hire an inspector to confirm that any electrical work over the years has been done according to building codes. If not, repairs will need to be made — and that’s costly and time-consuming.

If you’re selling: Know that buyers will either walk away from a home with bad wiring or will ask for a lower price. This happens because insurance policies won’t cover electrical systems that don’t meet code, which can lead to the buyer’s lender refusing to okay the deal. 

Low Appraisal Value

A home’s appraisal may come in lower than expected for a host of reasons. If the difference is small, it’s probably not something to be concerned about. But if the appraisal value is a lot lower than expected, it’s important to address the issue quickly.

If you’re buying: If the home is still appealing to you, offer a lower bid — and be prepared to walk away. Lenders don’t like giving loans for properties that appraise for lower than the purchase price.

If you’re selling: The appraisal is a key element that can break an otherwise great deal. You may need to make repairs to boost the house’s value, or you may need to compromise on the asking price.

Issues that Are Rarely Deal Breakers 

There are other house features that aren’t necessarily deal-breakers, as long as you know how to address them:

Cosmetic issues

Old grout, unattractive paint jobs, aging tile and carpet, and similar visual issues can often be addressed in a cost-effective way. Boosting the home’s overall appearance may help it sell faster.

Outdated features

An aged fuse box or old-fashioned light fixtures can be replaced relatively inexpensively. Other issues, such as an old water heater, might be negotiated before the contract is signed.

Poor DIY remodeling

Sometimes, homeowners attempt to do upgrades, but they don’t go smoothly. Small issues such as a poorly installed fence latch or messy paint job can be addressed easily.

Negotiate Your Next Real Estate Deal with the Savvy Guidance of McGraw REALTORS   

Ready to sell or buy your house? Partnering with a team of knowledgeable, well-networked Realtors will make the process smooth and stress-free, especially when it’s time to negotiate potential concerns to broker a great deal for everyone. McGraw REALTORS is here to help you get the right price for your property. 

Learn more about our roster of Realtors near you — and let us know what you’re looking for in your next purchase or sale!

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