Buying or building a house is already expensive, and there is absolutely no reason to make the damage worse. Just as you pick up and feel a piece of fruit at the grocery store to test the edible worth, do the same with your prospective house. There are certain things to look for that will cost you money down the road if they aren’t noticed and understood before your closing date.

Lots of Glass
Yvonne Eijkenduijn via Compfight

1. Massive windows.

Part of being comfortable in a house is having nice windows. Natural light is a key feature to a cozy house, as it can help with seasonal mood disorder as well as everyday lighting. The issue with windows, however, is that when they are too big they can suck money and increase energy bills. Make sure to take caution if you are looking at a house with windows that are the size of your neighbor’s pool or a nearby lake. They have far less insulation when compared with your wall, and it makes a huge difference. This is a problem mainly associated with locations that have four seasons. In the winter, the heat escapes, causing the furnace or boiler to work harder. In the summer, the air conditioner gets overworked. It’s a good thing to understand if you are looking at buying or building a house because your energy requirements will be greater.

2. Oversized yard.

Of course we all want a giant yard to play in. The issue with a larger-than-life yard is the maintenance cost. Water is a resource that can add up on the monthly bills. When you look for a house or a lot to build a house, keep in mind how much yard you actually want. Aside from water usage costs to maintain color and health, large open spaces filled with landscaping take time. If you will be busy and don’t want to hire yard maintenance, this is a really important money gobbling feature to watch out for. Additionally, more ground space means more area to be filled up with trees and other shrubbery. These not only cost money to maintain, but to buy up front. Some good alternatives for a yard base would be bark and rock. These are cheaper over the long run and can do the job.

3. Outdated furnace or boiler.

This is a huge red flag to consider in a house you are scoping. If there is an old furnace or boiler, your energy bills will be much higher. These systems are not efficient, and therefore require more energy to produce the same unit of heat. To take a step further, this is extraordinarily important as we transition to 2013. In May of 2013, many furnaces and boilers will have to meet efficiency ratings set by the government. If you are looking at a house that has an old one, this will just add another cost for you. Be careful and take note of the heating system. Older systems not only increase monthly bills, but a one-time upgrade fee to a more efficient product would be pricey.

4. Pools.

Hollywood tells us all that pools are necessary, and maybe having one is for your family. However, don’t ever buy a house when you aren’t really thrilled about having a pool. They are very costly to maintain, and they use a fair amount of water if older pump systems are in place. They cost money to heat and the chemicals to maintain the water are not cheap. On top of this, products for the pool like a cover, a net, a diving board and everything else can add up very quickly. Pools are fun to have, but understand the cost associated with them before you agree to own one. Think even harder about this one if you live in a place with four seasons. You will most likely only use it three months out of the year anyway.

5. A sketchy looking roof.

Regardless of where or what type of house you are buying, make sure the roof is intact and looks new. Putting in a new roof on a sizable house can cost well over $5,000, even approaching $10,000 if it’s a sprawling piece of real estate. If you notice any shingles that are out of place or missing, as well as any leaks inside, immediate red flags should be waved.

Buying a house is a situation where you are being sold a product. People choose to promote certain things and they choose to hide certain things. Make sure you take note of the features they are not talking about, because there is a reason they aren’t the selling point. Take a hard look at the structure and layout of your house and lot; you will be compensated financially later on.

Martin Orefice is a husband, father, and entrepreneur with an interest in personal finance and real estate. He established, the premier site for finding Florida rent-to-own homes.

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