What are 3 deal breakers when buying a house?
First, I’m seeing a few things listed as deal breakers by others that wouldn’t bother me, but that may be because costs vary from market to market for some repairs.
But some for me would be:
- Not having a clear title. This can vary. For instance, when we found the lot we are now living on, it had an IRS tax lien on it of over $300,000. We tried to communicate with the owners about it, and they ghosted on us. But a tax lien can be much easier to lift than many people think. (Just promise the IRS gets what you owe them from the income from the sale.) In our case, since the owners refused to communicate, it went to auction, so we bought it free and clear. (And, thanks to a rather lazy or hurried lawyer who was involved, we also got lucky and had some conditions in older deeds not show up in our deed.)
- Water Issues: There are a lot of construction and maintenance issues that can be handled, depending on how much the seller will drop the price or how far below market the price is. But water does nasty things. It can lead to rot in areas you can’t easily see, along with mold and a lot of damage. You can think it’s all taken care of, but then miss a critical spot. (And I would include roofing and plumbing as big parts of this issue.)
(I’d have to say there are some construction or structural issues that, if they were bad enough, would be a deal breaker, but water has been the nastiest that I’ve seen – including a flip house that was historic property and needed serious foundation work.)
- Bad Faith from the Sellers: (Or the seller representatives.) If the sellers start changing terms on me or making it tough to follow through on the deal, I lose patience quickly. I also had one experience, on buying a house for a flip, where the idiot REO paralegal (a term not used in every state, but she basically worked for the bank and handled almost everything involved in paperwork and closing) was not doing her job. We would write detailed emails, making it clear exactly what we were asking and she’d respond with a short and cryptic 4–5 word answer and then refuse to clarify it.
We closed well over a week late solely because of her. I finally had to write an email, CC’ing everyone in the deal, and spell out what she did wrong, challenge every mistake she made, list every lie of hers with the proof it was a lie, and spell out exactly how she would behave and what she would do for the rest of the deal if she didn’t want me talking to her boss. Singlehandedly, she almost killed the deal. After it was all done, I waited until a Friday (when people don’t want to wait over the weekend before dumping crap on their subordinates, and talked to the VP of the firm about her. (And, yes, it was clear the VP was quite upset!) If someone treated me like that today, after the first mistake, I’d give them a good warning and if they continued to cause trouble, I’d go to their boss and say, “Either remove her or we’ll back out.”