Money Talks News: How to Avoid a Money Pit

"I called my realtor and just started screaming." "Termites. Something we weren't expecting."

First-time home buyer, Elisa Hernandez, knew she was buying a fixer-upper, but she didn't expect to deal with termites.

Now obviously before you buy any house, you're hopefully going to get it inspected by a professional. But even before you pay one, how about some tips so that you might recognize a potential money pit.

First, if there's a basement, use it to check exposed pipes and wiring, and check the foundation for cracks. Then go up to the top. Check the roof for signs of wear, aging and leaks.

Next, look at the layout - will it work as-is, or will you need to move walls, plumbing and electrical?

That's expensive stuff. Then look for recent repair:

"If you see anything that seems like it's brand new when the rest of the house is not, you know there was a repair. And either it was repaired or something trying to be covered up."

Also sometimes, the nose knows! Septic tank or sewer leaks, gas leaks, mold-- all these things might be detectable right here.

Looking good so far? Hire an inspector who has a good reputation and knows the local codes.

Spending a few hundred bucks here can save you a few thousand later.

Finally, before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you're really committed. Renovations almost always take longer and cost more than you expect. You've got to plan for that.

Bottom line... There's nothing wrong with a fixer-upper, if getting that sweat equity. But there is something wrong with buying into a money pit.

That's why you get a home inspector.

That's why you use these tips to make sure it doesn't happen to you. Want more ideas? They're waiting for you right here at

Just do a search for "money pit." For Money Talks News, I'm Stacy Johnson.