New homeowners are suffering a wave of ‘buyer’s remorse’ after racing to snap up homes during the pandemic property frenzy only to find their ‘dream homes’ are riddled with problems, realtors say.
As prices shot up and sellers initiated brutal bidding wars, aspiring homeowners were forced to bypass the usual inspections as they rushed to exchange keys.
But from black mold lurking behind carpets to rattlesnakes nesting in their basements, new owners are starting to uncover just how costly that mistake was.
Here, Dailymail.com speaks to realtors across the US to expose the biggest homebuying nightmares…
Tiffany, 37, pictured with her husband Stephen, 38, and their three sons – (L-R) Luca, 5, Kian, 8, and Rowan, 3. The Texas family thought they had found her dream family home – a sprawling, three-bedroom mansion complete with a swimming pool, balcony and jacuzzi. But after buying it for $500,000, they soon realized the property was riddled with rot, mold and water damage, making it uninhabitable
Tiffany Johnston and her family thought they had found their dream family home – a sprawling $500,000 Texan mansion complete with swimming pool, pictured
The porch to their home is all rotting away while the ceilings and walls are covered in water damage and rot, says Tiffany
Faulty plumbing, flooding risks and rot
Most likely to appear in: Anywhere but particularly high-risk in northeastern states where laws around disclosure are more lax
As climate change makes flooding, storms and severe weather events more commonplace, buyers should be increasingly concerned about the protections their buildings have.
But the issue is compounded by the fact there is no federal requirement for sellers to disclose the flood risk of their homes.
Disclosure laws vary state by state, with the Midwest having some of the most lax restrictions.
In New York, for example, sellers must only tell a seller whether a property is sitting within a floodplain and if any flooding produced standing water on the property.
However a legal loophole means they can bypass this with a $500 credit to the buyer.’
In Texas, Tiffany Johnston thought she had found her dream family home – a sprawling, three-bedroom mansion complete with a swimming pool, balcony and jacuzzi.
She and husband Stephen bought the property for $500,000 and exchanged keys in October.
But after noticing some plumbing issues and water leakages, they soon realized the property was riddled with rot, mold and water damage, making it uninhabitable for the couple and their three young sons.
The Johnston family is now living in a trailer instead of their sprawling home as they repair the damage
Tiffany, 37, who suffers an autoimmune condition, says home inspectors failed to disclose the damage
Tiffany, who is living in a trailer with her family while they renovate the property, said lax disclosure laws in Texas meant her family was not aware of the extent of the damage in her home.
The 37-year-old said: ‘We never moved as I have autoimmune issues, we have three boys under 8 and my husband has survived a pretty bad case of thyroid cancer so we weren’t willing to risk a renovation when living in it.
‘We’re probably looking at $150,000 more work that needs to be done just to make the home safe to live in.
‘There was nothing listed on the disclosure from sellers and nothing documented within the country.’
Hannah Wafler, 23, and partner Eric Sullens’ home buying dream turned into a ‘nightmare’. The couple had only just moved into the $120,000 three-bedroom property w
Hannah Wafler and her partner Eric bought a three-bedroom property in Missouri for $120,000 hoping to turn it into their ‘dream home’
America’s mold epidemic
Most likely to appear in: Southwestern states with high humidity such as Texas and California – but also in states like Missouri
Dubbed America’s ‘silent killer’, mold can have a catastrophic effect on a homeowner’s health and finances.
Studies in the US have linked the presence of mold to a wild range of health problems in children, including asthma, developmental delays and reduced cognitive and immune function.
It is most common in humid regions, with its presence particularly prominent in southwestern states like Texas and California.
But it’s also more widespread. In Missouri, young mom Hannah Wafler bought her first house in January only to discover it was covered in mold.
The 23-year-old had only just moved into the $120,000 three-bedroom property when she noticed her two babies – Morgan, 2, and six-month-old Jayce – were ill.
Upon further inspection, Wafler and her partner Eric Sullens discovered the home was riddled with mold and had been covered up by carpets and layers of paint.
The couple had by-passed an inspection on the property because they were assured the sellers had done one.
‘It has been a nightmare, the sellers completely lied to us,’ she told Dailymail.com.
‘It was also infested with roaches and it’s 70 years older than we were told it was.’
The couple are now having to tear up the walls and floors after discovering the home was riddled with mold which was making their babies ill
The Missouri home is riddled with mold and it had been covered up by carpets and layers of paint.
Now the family has launched a GoFundMe page to cover the cost of the repairs on which they have already spent $1,000.
Texan real estate agent Daniel Cabrera, founder of Sell My House Fast, said a recent client failed to spot mold in a house viewing – and it cost him $18,000.
During a walk-through Cabrera noticed a lot of incense and candles burning and urged the buyer to have an inspection done, but he refused. A month later, the property flooded.
‘It was all infested with the worst kind of mold and smelled like a pit of dead bodies,’ said Cabrera.
‘No wonder every room had incense burning.’
Most likely to appear in: Southeastern states with dry climates such as Florida, Alabama and North Carolina
Termite infestations impact more than 600,000 homes in the US each year, causing around $5billion in damage, according to pest control firm Terminix.
And they are concentrated largely in the southeastern states, popping up most often in Florida, Alabama, North Carolina and Mississippi due to the fact they thrive in warm, dry climates.
Scott Rubzin, founder of Tiffany Property Invest in North Carolina, says termite damage is the number one homebuying nightmare he comes across.
‘Along with expensive, time-consuming repairs, termite presence causes allergic reactions in people,’ he says.
‘Heating ventilation in the house becomes impossible because they produce a pungent smell.’
Termites cost US homeowners around $5bn in damage each year, according to pest control firm Terminix
Most likely to appear in: southern states with hot, dry climates
Rattlesnake infestations have been known to force owners out of their new homes as the creatures can nest under properties in their hundreds.
The snakes are often found in southern states with hot, dry climates like Alabama, Texas and Florida.
‘About 75 percent of homes have a significant infestation in Florida alone,’ says realtor Omer Reiner, who invested in a house himself which turned out to be riddled with snakes.
Snakes favor dark and humid conditions to make them feel safe.
Experts at Big Country Snake Removal in Abilene, Texas, say rattlesnakes are particularly attracted to mobile homes as they can nest beneath them.
In a Facebook post, the snake removal firm shared a video of showing the removal of snakes from the roof liner. Last spring, they removed an astonishing 18 snakes from the home, and this winter, another 11 were removed.
‘If you have a mobile home with a liner, you will have snakes,’ they warned.
Most likely to appear in: Midwestern states due to uranium-dense soil
Radon exposure is the second-biggest cause of lung cancer after smoking in the US.
That’s why realtors recommend having any potential new home tested for levels of the colorless, odorless gas – though laws around disclosure vary state by state.
But radon levels have historically always been concentrated in the Midwest, South Dakota, Ohio and Iowa often coming out with some of the highest readings from the Environmental Protection Agency.
This is because radon comes from the breakdown of naturally occurring radioactive elements such as uranium.
The mineral make-up of midwestern soil is uranium-dense.
Radon mitigation jobs are rarely covered by home insurance and cost on average of between $1,000 and $2,000.