There Really May Be Ghosts and Goblins Hiding in the Home You Want to Buy

A “haunted house” listed at a bargain price of $99,000 in Joliet, Illinois, last April is apparently still on the market. The Frank Shaver Allen Home is reportedly home to several ghosts, some of which have been caught on film.

Far more common for new home buyers, however, are the ghosts and goblins hiding inside the walls and under the floors of some homes. Things like tiny cracks in the walls or a musty odor in the basement can be signals of deeper problems.

The pros at Realtor.com have prepared a list of five problems to watch out for when searching for a new home. Some are health hazards and others are expensive to fix. Either way, your best option may be to avoid them unless you can get the seller to agree to knock down the price by at least as much as it costs to fix the problem.

Polybutylene pipes. A cheap alternative to copper pipes in some houses built in the 1980s and 1990s. Over time the pipes degrade on contact with chlorine, a common ingredient in municipal water supplies. This can be scary expensive to fix.

Aluminum wiring. Again a cheaper alternative to copper, especially popular in the 1960s and 1970s as copper was directed to military use in Vietnam. But aluminum expands and contracts more with heat than does copper, and eventually that can lead to loose connections that can start a fire. Again, rewiring a whole house can be quite costly.

Mold. A damp or musty smell can be a tip-off that there’s mold present. This fungus can cause health problems and can be expensive to fix, depending on the severity of the problem. Not all homeowners’ insurance policies cover mold damage and remediation.

Termites. The only sure way to find out if the home you want is infested with termites is to get a professional termite inspection before you hand over your down payment. Insect damage, including from termites, is definitely not covered by homeowner’s insurance.

Foundation issues. A cracked or sinking foundation is hard to spot, but small crack in the ceiling may indicate that something is wrong. A thorough home inspection should turn up any problems and you do want to know about those problems because replacing a home’s foundation is hugely expensive.

For more tips on how to spot these problems, visit the Realtor.com website.