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5 House Hunting “Deal Breakers” That Aren’t So Bad

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Brian
07.30.13

House hunting is a little bit like going on a whole bunch of first dates. In both situations, you’re on the lookout for deal breakers, like a creepy attitude (bad neighborhood), nasty breath (moldy basement) and no personality (“blah” décor). But just like the dating game, first impressions can be a deceiving, and not every cliché “house problem” is dump-worthy.

Here are five flaws you may find during a house hunt that aren’t necessarily deal breakers:

Wall-to-Wall Carpet

You don’t often hear people say that they “love” wall-to-wall carpet, but people’s tolerance for the look varies. If you really can’t stand the shag – but you’ve found a home that’s perfect otherwise – give it a chance! Beneath that carpet is probably a beautiful floor with endless possibilities. The cost to tear up and replace carpet with an inexpensive alternative (like vinyl) is generally $15-$20 per square yard, so this foible can be fixed without breaking the bank.

Popcorn Ceiling

This rough acoustic surface (also called “cottage cheese” ceiling) is basically the polar opposite of modern chic. But that doesn’t mean your dreams of a sleek décor scheme can’t come true! Removing popcorn ceiling yourself is labor intensive, but very doable. Or, you can hire someone to do it for you – it generally costs $1.30-$2.60 per square foot to remove. Note: If the house you’re looking at was built before 1979, popcorn ceiling removal is more complicated (and expensive) due to the risk of asbestos.

An Old Roof

A house with a roof more than 10 years old tends to trigger alarm bells. After all, old roofs can quickly turn into leaking roofs. But remember: old doesn’t mean broken, and the age of the roof should reduce the asking price of the house. Important: If you purchase an old-roofed house, it is important to budget for an eventual replacement, which can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000. Different roof surfaces have very different life expectancies, so do some research about your roof and plan accordingly.

A Slightly-Too-High Price Point

If you’ve found your dream home, but it costs about $5,000 more than you planned to pay, don’t walk away immediately. Five grand is nothing to sneeze at, but when you compare it to the total value of your home, it’s less significant. Plus, there are two possible ways to earn back this amount of cash:

1. See if there are any homeowner tax incentives for which you’ll qualify.

2. Ask your real estate agent if they’d be willing to take a small cut in their commission given the higher price (it’s in their best interest to get a deal done, so they may be receptive to this).

No Central AC

Hear us out! If you’re house hunting in the middle of July, the idea of a sans-AC existence can seem like purchasing a lot on the seventh circle of hell. But a few window units (or some well-placed fan action) can cool off a lot more effectively than you think. Plus, installing a central AC unit can be done for as little as $2,000, which isn’t that bad if the lack of AC took a chunk out of the initial price. 

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