With Halloween right around the corner, now's the time when neighborhood lawns are littered with carved-out pumpkins, hanging ghosts, and all other sorts of creepy decor. In fact, some homeowners like to go all out during Halloween and construct their own haunted houses.
For some people, there's nothing more fun than taking a stroll through a spooky setup and getting scared out of their wits. For others, it's a hard pass.
But no matter how you feel about haunted houses, one thing that's way scarier is buying a home with a host of issues that end up costing you a fortune. Whether you're a first-time homebuyer or a real estate investor looking to expand your portfolio of income properties, here are a few frightening problems to avoid at all costs.
Mold isn't just unsightly. It can have a serious impact on your health or on the health of the tenants you rent to. And it can also be quite costly and complicated to get rid of.
Mold often comes as a result of poor ventilation. If you're looking at houses and they don't seem well-ventilated, especially in bathrooms, consider it a red flag. And of course if you see actual mold, you may want to run the other way. Black spots on walls are a telltale sign.
But even if you don't see mold growing, you may be able to smell it. If you're walking through a home and keep getting random whiffs of an unpleasant odor you can't place, there's a good chance it's mold. (And hey, even if it isn't, you probably don't want to buy a house with a perpetual stench.)
Now the good news is that mold is treatable, so if you find some in a home you already own, all's not lost. But if you're looking to buy a new place, the presence of mold is a good reason to not make an offer.
Asbestos was a common building material used through the 1970s, after which it was discovered to cause lung problems. If you're looking to buy an older home, keep asbestos on your radar. You'll commonly find it in flooring, insulation, and roofing, among other places.
If a property owner comes clean about the presence of asbestos (which sellers are technically required to do), you may want to consider taking your money elsewhere. That said, there are ways to address an asbestos problem, like sealing or covering it. But in some cases, removing it may be the best course of action, and that's where things can get very expensive.
Termites come in different forms, and they're not always so easy to spot. In fact, you may be more likely to spot signs of termite damage than the actual critters themselves.
Termites like to feast on wood, so if you're thinking of buying a home, you'll need to keep an eye out for signs of deterioration. These include floors or beams with visible holes in them, warped or buckled flooring, and squeaky flooring.
Of course, once a termite problem is identified, it's possible to call in an exterminator for termite treatment. But that won't solve the problem of existing home damage. Therefore, if you come across a property with termite damage in the course of your home search, you may want to cross it off your list.
Don't set yourself up for a nightmare
When you buy a home, it's common to find something wrong with it. But these issues in particular can be frightening beyond belief -- and extremely hard on your wallet.
If you're buying a home, be sure to spring for a thorough inspection, and pay attention to the findings that ensue. If your inspector has any reason to believe there's a mold, asbestos, or termite problem at hand, you're more than justified in wanting to walk away. After all, a property riddled with problems can be far scarier than the most decked-out haunted house you've ever come across.