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You’re thinking of buying a new home, and it looks beautiful. You’ve walked through it and looked at the pictures online. It’s a stunning home with well-maintained grounds, and it’s in a good neighborhood. Everything appears in order.

But is it really a good investment? Or are there issues lurking beneath the surface that could really cost you in the long run? To avoid a home with hidden problems and pitfalls, take these steps:

  • Ask the seller if they know about any potential issues. They legally have to tell you. While they may not be responsible for hidden problems that even they have not yet discovered, they have an obligation to disclose known defects. They cannot simply cover it up and hope you don’t notice until you buy the house.
  • Have an official home inspection. Don’t count on your own walk-through. Even when things look good from the outside, an inspector can often find issues like a cracked foundation or a leaky roof that you may have missed entirely.
  • Remember that small signs can indicate large problems. For instance, you may notice some light discoloration in the drywall. You think the house just needs a new coat of paint. However, the real issue is that water is leaking through the roof and running down the beams, which are rotting out. You have to tear the whole wall out and replace it, and you need to fix the leak in the roof. It’s a huge project.

Never enter into a real estate transaction lightly. Take your time, know what to look for and learn all you can about the legal steps you’ll need to take.