Buying a 'Bad' Home: What to Know in Case You Buy a House of Horrors

By Krisanne Alcantara

When Justin and Kate Treher purchased their stunning, four-bedroom Tudor in Harrisburg, Pa., in June 2010, they were relieved. After a long search, they thought that they'd found their dream home -- located in a quiet, wooded area with a spacious layout and generous yard that "seemed perfect" for raising their children.

"Most importantly, we liked that it did not need any work," Justin Treher told AOL Real Estate. "We had no interest in changing anything, not even the paint scheme."

But, like the old adage goes, if it looks too good to be true, it usually is: Just eight months after their purchase, the Trehers found themselves knee-deep in problems.

The couple's "finished" basement became entirely flooded when their sump pump failed. Although the previous owner supposedly had just installed and tested the existing sump pump -- and had not declared any previous water problems -- before the sale, the Treher family found themselves not only with a soaked basement but with draining issues throughout the entire home. (The real estate disclaimer given to the Trehers before purchase listed no issues with the home other than upgrades and repairs that had supposedly already been completed.)

Just weeks after the discovery, the Trehers also found termite swarms in their "professionally done" sunroom. Despite a previous inspection turning up no signs of termites, the Trehers were suddenly forced to shell out an additional $2,000 to have their new home treated for the pests. Even still, their sunroom did not "seem right" after the extermination, Justin said.

"I kept noticing a musty smell in the sunroom," he recalled. "When probing along the window, my finger went through the sill and out crawled hundreds of termites."

The Trehers soon discovered that there was no caulking -- which keeps out moisture -- around any of the windows and that the home's insulation could be seen from the outside. They ultimately had to tear down a wall and take out windows and flooring, as the sunroom turned out to be entirely soaked and mold-ridden.