A Complete Guide to Buying a Second-hand House: What to Look Out For

Are you considering buying a second-hand house in Steel City? Pittsburgh is a city known for its beautiful bridges, rich history, and passionate sports fans. 

While the idea of settling in a charming older home might be appealing, there are some things you need to be cautious about. Buying a second-hand home can be like dating someone with a past; it might be great, but you have to know what you’re getting into. 

Below, we’ll explore some key factors to consider before signing on the dotted line.

The Location

It’s an age-old adage that still rings true—location is key. You might find the perfect house, but if it’s in a neighborhood you don’t feel comfortable in, it’s not going to be the right fit. 

Check out the local schools, safety records, and amenities. Are there grocery stores nearby? What about parks for the kids or dogs? How’s the commute to work? These are all questions that need to be answered.

Pittsburgh has many neighborhoods, each with its unique flavor—so make sure the area suits your lifestyle and future plans. A quick visit won’t suffice. Drive around at different times, chat with locals, and maybe even spend a weekend in the area. 

Don’t Skip the Roof Inspection: It’s More Important Than You Think

The roof is like the crown of a home, and just like any crown, you don’t want it to have holes or cracks. It’s especially crucial in Pittsburgh, where the weather can fluctuate wildly. Snow, rain, and wind all put pressure on your roof, and if it’s not up to par, you could be looking at significant repair costs, not to mention potential damage to the rest of the home.

We suggest calling in the top Pittsburgh Roofers to conduct a thorough roof inspection. They’ll check for missing shingles, leaks, and signs of wear and tear. Depending on the issues, you can either ask the seller to fix them or negotiate a lower price. Also, ask about the age of the roof. 

Most asphalt shingle roofs last about 20 to 25 years. If the roof is nearing the end of its life, you’ll need to factor in the cost of replacement sooner rather than later.

Always Be On the Lookout for Hidden Costs

A second-hand house might come with a smaller price tag upfront, but don’t be fooled. There can be hidden costs that only become apparent after you’ve moved in. We’re talking about potential structural issues, outdated electrical wiring, plumbing problems, and so on.

Additionally, consider property taxes in Pittsburgh, as well as homeowner’s association fees if applicable. These can add up quickly and affect your monthly budget. An old HVAC system that needs to be replaced in two years is another ticking financial time bomb. A home inspection is a must, but we’ll dig deeper into that later.

Let’s Talk About the Bones: Structural Integrity and Foundation

After you’re done inspecting the roof, it’s time to look at the bones of the house—specifically, the foundation and structural integrity. Cracks in the walls or ceiling, uneven floors, and doors that won’t close properly can all be red flags pointing to foundational issues.

In Pittsburgh, the soil conditions and natural landscape also play a role. The city is hilly and has numerous rivers, which could cause soil erosion and impact the stability of your potential home. In a worst-case scenario, structural issues could lead to costly repairs or make the house unsafe to live in. Again, a professional inspection can give you valuable insights into what you’re potentially getting into.

Green Features and Energy Efficiency: Future-Proofing Your Home

Second-hand homes often lack the energy-efficient features of newer builds, and in a city like Pittsburgh, where the winters can be bitterly cold, this could mean high utility bills. However, older homes also offer a unique opportunity to implement green upgrades that can increase property value and reduce your carbon footprint. 

While touring homes, look for possibilities to improve energy efficiency, such as installing double-glazed windows or upgrading insulation.

You might also consider more advanced options like solar panels. Pittsburgh gets its fair share of sunny days, making solar an increasingly viable option for homeowners. Local and federal incentives can make these upgrades more affordable, so be sure to research what’s available in your area. 

If you’re planning on staying in the house for several years, these improvements not only make your home more comfortable and eco-friendly but also pay for themselves in the long run through reduced energy costs.

The Unseen Matters: Plumbing and Electrical Systems

Let’s face it: when we tour a home, we’re more likely to be wowed by the beautiful hardwood floors or that quaint fireplace than to think about what’s running behind the walls. 

However, plumbing and electrical systems are the veins and arteries of any home. In a second-hand house, they can either be in excellent shape or a ticking time bomb.

In Pittsburgh, many homes have a rich history, and so do their pipes and wires. Plumbing issues could range from minor problems like leaky faucets to major issues like old, corroded pipes that need complete replacement. 

Poor plumbing can lead to water damage, which is not only a headache to deal with but also expensive to repair. Electrical issues, on the other hand, can be a fire hazard. Old wiring may not be up to code or able to handle the electrical load of modern life with our myriad of gadgets and appliances.

Final Thoughts

So we’ve covered some pretty technical stuff, but sometimes, it just boils down to how the house makes you feel. If something doesn’t sit right, trust your instincts. You’re going to be living here, after all. Take your time to make a decision, and don’t hesitate to seek professional advice. A real estate agent who knows Pittsburgh well can be a huge asset. 

A good home inspector can save you thousands in the long run. Buying a second-hand house is not just a financial investment but also an emotional one. Make sure it’s worth both.

Hopefully, this guide gives you a head start in your journey to buy a second-hand home in Pittsburgh. It’s a big step, but with careful consideration and a little bit of homework, you’ll find a house that you can truly call home.