How to Avoid Buying the Money Pit


‘The Money Pit’ made for some great entertainment back in the yesteryear of 1986. It was pretty funny stuff to see Tom Hanks and Shelley Long purchase a dilapidated home that got worse by the day.  It resonated with us, even if we weren’t old enough to be homeowners yet, because buying a house is just part of the American dream.. even at an early age.

Fast forward to today.  Buying a home is serious business.  Rather you’re planning to live there forever (often the best plan for retiring with more money) or selling in a few years, the last thing you need is a piece of real estate that’s consistently costing you more in repairs than you make in a paycheck .

Here’s the most important things to look for when buying a home and how to avoid buying a money pit.

1) Check out the Roof Yourself

It’s one of the most overlooked “gotcha” expenses for new homeowners who just purchased a used home.  Roof repairs can easily escalate into five figures and have you quickly wishing you had looked elsewhere.

If you think getting a home inspection is enough, think again.  An inspector’s job is to conduct a “visual” examination of your new property.  Inspectors typically only look for major defects that can be easily spotted.  While most inspections require the roof to be looked at, they’re not usually required to climb a ladder and look around.  A badly leaking roof can look great from the ground and a visual inspection from your new lawn simply isn’t enough to guarantee the most important protection for your new home.

2) Inspect the Basement

It’s a wonderful thing to double your living space with an included basement, especially when furnished and ready to live in.  It can also be one of your heftiest repairs.

Basements leak and it’s easy to remove signs of a leaky basement when the leaking is in the early stages.  Badly leaking basements can easily accumulate a foot of water or more after a bad storm. Thoroughly investigate all wall and floor lines and spots where the ground has pushed the walls in near the base.  That’s a strong signal that there may be a leaking problem. A leaking basement is another repair that usually costs a homeowner thousands of dollars.

The most important care consideration of a basement is keeping it dry at all times.  That’s what makes it desirable for spending time and living in.  If it’s damp and musty, you’ll end up with a lot of lost space that you only use for doing laundry.

3) Don’t Forget the Bathrooms

Bathrooms too often receive a quick glance from potential home buyers.  They are notorious for leaking tubs and cracks in walls and floors.  With a lot of running water going in and out of this area every day, there’s always a chance for structural damage.

It’s not just the pipes either.  Sloppy showers lead to repeated occurrences of water on the floor that seep through into the floor of the bathroom and adjacent rooms.

That adds up over time and can lead to some pretty severe floor damage and moldy conditions.

4) Test the Temperature

Your new home must have heat and depending on where you live, air-conditioning might also be a requirement.  If you’re going to spend 30 minutes looking through a home, turn the thermostat both low and high and see how quickly the temperature changes.

Poorly insulated homes are an unfortunate trademark of many builders who attempt to cut the costs of home building.  If you’re home doesn’t heat up well, you’re likely looking at spending thousands extra in utility bills over the next few years or thousands now, in a new central heating and air system and/or proper insulation.


It’s okay to be a demanding ass when you’re looking at buying a used home.  The more insistent you are in proper examination of your potential purchase, the more money you save in the long run.  Either the buyer or the seller is ultimately going to have to fork over the money for home repairs and it’s the seller’s responsibility.  Don’t be shy with your requests.  Saving all that money will keep you from buying a money pit and maybe allow you to pay your home off years earlier.


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