Between inspections and paperwork, a lot can go wrong when buying a home. We asked people about their worst homeowner horror stories to help you avoid major headaches.
An Infestation You Can’t Get Covered
As a cash homebuyer and owner of We Buy Houses In Pennsylvania, Ryan David thought he had seen it all. But when he and his wife bought a house for their personal residence, they quickly discovered they had uninvited guests: fleas!
They couldn’t move into their new home immediately, so they only found out about the “super flea infestation” several months after closing. As a result, David says they “spent hundreds of dollars on flea removal.”
Worse? The experience still haunts him: “Every time I walk into an empty home I'll always be on the lookout for fleas.”
The takeaway. Unfortunately for David and his wife, homeowners insurance doesn’t usually cover damage caused by pests like fleas, termites, and rodents. They may have been able to protect themselves by requesting a pest inspection prior to closing in addition to a home inspection.
An Inspection Most Don’t Think Of
Rick Conti says “many homeowners willingly do a termite inspection, but often skip the bed bug inspection.” And in his experience, that choice can cost homeowners anxiety, stress, and money.
Conti’s company Doctor Sniffs Bed Bug Dogs recently worked with a client who had a home inspection prior to buying a house. After sealing the deal, the client started renovations﹘which is when the trouble began.
“As they tore down walls and pulled back moldings,” he says, “the bed bugs began turning up. They called us in and our dogs searched the entire house, finding bed bugs all over the place.”
Bed bugs are nocturnal, according to Conti. They prefer the dark and like cracks and crevices, so the new homeowners did not notice anything beforehand. The experience was so terrible, the homeowners told Conti they wouldn't have bought the house if they’d known about the bed bugs.
The takeaway. Like fleas, bed bugs and the damage they cause aren’t typically covered by a homeowners policy. But you can also get a bed bug inspection to root out any problems if you’re concerned.
A Whirlwind of Paperwork Gets Lost
Founder of Academia Labs Craig Miller says a simple mix-up with his wife caused his homeowner horror story. The couple experienced minor wind damage from a tornado, so their agent sent them paperwork to file an insurance claim.
“After completing all the necessary documents,” says Miller “I placed them on the coffee table in our living room. When I did not see them the next day, I assumed that my wife had submitted the paperwork to the agent, so I just waited.”
Miller waited patiently﹘for six months. At that point, he followed up with his agent only to be told that the agent had never received the claim documents. It turns out that Miller’s wife had put the papers in a desk drawer, which meant they hadn’t been filed in time and the Millers’ claim was ultimately denied.
The takeaway. Miscommunications happen, but policyholders are required to promptly report claims so it’s important to stay on top of your paperwork. Start by deciding who is responsible for actually filing the claim. That way, you avoid assumptions and confusion.
Most importantly, don’t wait to follow up with your agent. You should have an insurance adjuster to your home within days and at a maximum two weeks.
Coverage Didn’t Start at the Close of Escrow
Marina Vaamonde, a residential real estate investor with House Cashin, didn’t follow her insurance agent’s advice and it ended up costing her dearly. She was in the process of closing on a new home when she contacted her agent about home insurance.
She says, “He told me to wait for a day to close on the house so that the policy could kick in the day that I took ownership.” Instead of following that sage advice, Vaamonde decided to go one day without coverage. Unfortunately, that’s the day a deer crashed through her new home’s sliding glass door. And because her homeowners policy wasn’t effective until the next day, Vaamonde was responsible for all of the repair bills.
The takeaway. Insurance might seem like overkill during that brief window between closing on a house and moving in, but Vaamonde’s story shows just how risky that can be. Remember that you’re responsible for your home the moment you close, even if you aren’t living there, so home insurance is key to protecting your investment.
The Inspection Didn’t Show a Problem
Jake Romano has seen several homeowner horror stories in his work with John the Plumber. One client, Romano says, purchased a home in the winter. Despite everything seeming fine during the inspection, the house turned out to be prone to flooding in the spring. He says the client ended up installing a sump pit, sump pump, battery backup sump pump, and weeping tiles all in the first spring they lived in the home.
Homeowners can prevent a major problem like this by having a plumber do an inspection with a camera to see the health of the pipes all the way to the street, where they become the city’s responsibility.