Nine things to do in your newly purchased home
Originally appeared in Bay Area News Group publications on May 22, 2015
“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.”
– Theodore Roosevelt
Navigating a home purchase and escrow can be draining. And then there is the hassle of moving. Once you are in the home, it seems like a perfect time to kick back and chill. Doing so, however, without working on some important items, can later create serious problems you might have been able to avoid. Health, safety and security should be addressed first.
Biggest buyer mistake
In our superheated seller’s market, where buyers are bidding against each other in multiple offer scenarios, most homes are sold “As Is.” That means you are buying the home and all its problems. More often than not, general home inspection and structural pest control reports note problems that need either further inspection or correction now.
Out of sheer exhaustion, lack of funds, or both, many buyers file away the inspection reports they received during the purchase without addressing these deficiencies. It is a huge mistake to not at least determine which issues need immediate attention and place them at the top of a “To Do” list.
Some of these, such as roof, fireplace, furnace and water heater are mentioned below. In addition to pest control, potentially expensive areas commonly overlooked by buyers are foundation and drainage. Problems with water can lead to pest control, foundation and mold/mildew issues.
As I have repeated to buyers over the years, problems do not improve with time. They tend to get worse and more expensive when neglected.
I used to advise my buyers to have all locks rekeyed as soon as they take ownership. This is still a good idea, but it is no longer enough. Sadly, East Bay home burglaries have increased dramatically over the years.
“Lock bumping” is a technique where a $3.00 blank key can be bought online. Bumping the blank into your lock with a hammer or screwdriver can cause your door to easily open. Another increasingly common home burglary approach is using a crow bar to enter. These two illegal entry systems are why I now suggest that buyers replace existing locks with ones that cannot be circumvented by bumping or crow bar.
Two other beneficial changes are the addition of a home security (burglar alarm) system and a camera security system. If the property already has an alarm system, change the alarm codes and have the security company inspect the system to make sure it is fully functioning.
A camera system is not only a deterrent; it also increases your home safety. When the front door bell rings, a quick peek at your smart phone, tablet or computer will show you who is there.
Clearly, all these items have a price tag, but, in retrospect, the total cost may be only a fraction of what you could lose.
If your roof was not inspected by a licensed roofer during escrow, it is sensible to have it done after close. Small troubles can be inexpensively corrected. When ignored for years, roof leaks can wreak havoc inside ceilings and walls.
If it has not been done recently, make sure to have your fireplace and chimney inspected and cleaned by a professional prior to use. Doing so could prevent a fire or leakage of noxious gases. If it is a gas fireplace, it should be inspected for proper setup.
Before using the furnace, have a heating contractor inspect it, especially the combustion chamber, and service it, if necessary. See if the furnace filter needs changing.
Traditional, tank water heaters need periodic draining. Over time, sediment accumulates at the bottom of the tank and this hastens destruction of the water heater.
It is advisable to flush it out and observe how much sediment is discharged. Significant amounts of sediment will probably require that the entire water heater be emptied, flushed and refilled.
If the seller left a fridge that is more than several years old, it is worthwhile to have a professional inspect it and clean the compressor. See “Broken Fridge Nightmare in Remodeled Kitchen.”
For safety, every range should have a range hood. Over time, grease and grime collect and this could result in a fire. If possible, have your agent ask the seller’s agent to find out when the range hood was last cleaned.
Substituting energy-wasting incandescent bulbs with more efficient ones can result in significant savings over time. This is one of the easiest fixes.
For safety, security and peace of mind, get to know your neighbors as soon as possible and exchange emergency information with them.
Remember that your agent and others you know are likely to be able to recommend trustworthy inspectors. If you take responsibility from the beginning for the items above, you diminish the possibility of aggravation and possible loss later.