Should I Buy a House With a Saggy Floor?

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|10 min read

There are several factors to consider when evaluating a house. You will look at the roof, electrical wiring, plumbing, septic system, and other essential elements of the home. If these systems aren’t in good shape, you could end up paying more for repairs than you want.

Flooring, however, is a more complicated issue. There are times when poor flooring is simply a cosmetic issue that’s cheap to fix, and other times when it indicates a significant issue. 

Uneven floors could be the result of natural wear or poor construction. However, they could also indicate water damage or potential problems with the home. Learn more about this flooring concern, how to diagnose the issue, and whether you should buy a house with saggy floors.

Is it safe to live in a house with soft, saggy, uneven floors?

Flooring problems are often a side effect of a bigger issue. They serve as a warning that something is wrong with the foundation of your home or how it is settling. Along with uneven floors, you might notice other symptoms of a poor foundation, like windows and doors that don’t close properly or cracks in the floors and walls.  

Even if a qualified home inspector says that a house is safe to live in despite its foundation, these uneven floors can be annoying. You might have a harder time placing furniture so the pieces are stable. If you drop something on the ground, it might roll away on sloping floors. Even closing a door can become a frustrating process if the floor is higher on one side than the other. 

Poor flooring can also be a safety issue in other ways. You are more likely to trip over uneven floors, which could be particularly hazardous for older homeowners. Something that should be simple, like walking across your living room, can become more hazardous. 

Can you get a mortgage on a house with floor issues?

If you fall in love with a house that has uneven floors, you might have a harder time securing financing for the property. Lenders don’t want to clear loans for properties with foundation damage because it poses a risk to the structure of the property. Fortunately, you have multiple options. 

First, you can look into a FHA 203(k) loan, which is known as a renovation mortgage. You will get enough money to buy the house and a stipend to make repairs. This is an ideal option for repairing structural damage, which will also increase the value of the home.

Your next option is to accept a standard mortgage at a higher interest rate. Your lender might be willing to approve the loan at a higher rate to account for the risk that comes with the uneven floors. Once you repair the floors and any structural issues, you can refinance for a more favorable rate. 

Finally, you can bring the issue up to the homeowner. You can ask them to address the uneven floors before you close on the house. This way it can get a positive inspection on the property and a loan from your desired lender. 

It’s entirely possible that the homeowner won’t want to fix their sagging floors. However, if they are difficult when working with you, you can walk away. They will have the same issue with the next buyer unless the uneven floors get repaired. If you and the seller keep working to address the issue, you can reach a fair agreement that benefits both parties.

Signs of Floor Issues and How to Spot Them

You don’t have to be a structural engineer or schedule a home inspection to identify problems with the flooring. By simply touring a home, you can look for warning signs that something is wrong with the floors. Here are a few things to look for. 

  • The house has bouncy floors that move up and down as you walk across them. 
  • There is a noticeably uneven floor that happens to lean one way. 
  • The floors are buckling or sagging toward the middle. 
  • Some of the floorboards have large gaps between them or are broken. 
  • There are blotches of color on the floors, which is potentially indicative of mold. 
  • You notice a strange odor in the home that is similar to mildew. 

If you suspect that there is something wrong with a home’s floors, work with someone who is an expert at identifying issues. When you schedule a home inspection, ask a floor specialist to attend as well for an in-depth overview of the home’s needs. 

What to Do if a Home Inspection Reveals Uneven or Sagging Floors

If an inspector discovers that your future home has uneven floors or other floor-related issues, you will need to decide the best course of action before you move forward. Not only is your mortgage in jeopardy, but the sagging floors will also slow down your moving timeline as you make the necessary repairs.

You don’t want to move into a house with uneven floors because it will be harder to address the issue with all of your belongings inside. Here are a few steps you can take before you move forward with the home purchase.

Contact Your Real Estate Agent

Tell your Realtor about the sagging floors and share any information you have about them. Your agent needs to know if there are structural issues and other problems with the home. With this information, they can offer advice based on their past experiences with this situation so you can create a plan of action that works for everyone.

If you suspect that there are uneven floors but the issue hasn’t been officially diagnosed, ask your real estate agent to talk to the listing agent. They might get more information about any foundation issues that the seller’s Realtor only wanted to share with serious buyers. This can also help you gauge if the seller is aware of any structural problems they are trying to hide from buyers – which is a major red flag in the buying process. 

Negotiate a Discount

Everything is a negotiation in real estate until you sign the closing papers. Once you have the inspection report, you can get an estimate for the repair costs. You can approach the seller with a new offer based on this information. Even if you think you have an understanding of the repair costs, getting an inspection and estimate is essential for identifying hidden costs and gauging the entire scope of the project. 

A few things can happen during this negotiation. First, the seller can concede to the new offer or negotiate a different rate. Once you close on the house, you can fix the sagging floors and structural damage once you own the house. Next, the seller can try to fix the floors themselves in order to save money. If they do this, get them reinspected to make sure they are in good shape. 

Finally, the seller might reject your offer. They might think they can sell the house to another buyer without fixing the sagging floors. If this is the case, you may need to walk away from the property. A difficult seller will make fixing foundational damage even harder. 

Consider a Rehabilitation Loan

If you can’t walk away from the house because it is your dream home, you can look into rehabilitation loans. These are designed to help buyers repair distressed properties so they are more livable. This also increases your property values. 

For example, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) wants to make as many houses livable as possible. This makes it easier for people to find places to buy or rent. If a house has sagging floors or foundation damage, it might be considered unlivable. Its property value is lower and it could sit vacant on the street – affecting the values of other houses around it. By issuing a 203(k) loan, a house gets purchased and repaired. It becomes lived-in and renovated, which increases its value.

Look into one of these loans if you need to secure a mortgage. They can build your repair expenses into your mortgage so you aren’t paying back two debts at the same time. 

Costs to Repair Soft, Saggy, Uneven Floors

It’s impossible to provide an estimated cost to address your uneven floors. It all depends on where you live, the size of your home, and the actual root problem that causes the sagging. Foundation professionals say repairs can run anywhere from $1,000 to more than $10,000.

The specialists you work with will need to see if there is an issue with the home’s foundation, roof framing, crawl space, and other key elements. Once the house is evaluated, they can provide a cost estimate. 

On top of fixing big structural issues, you also might have to pay for simple repairs and small issues with the wood flooring. The floors could be damaged by the pier and beam foundations settling or shifting over time. 

Consider securing multiple estimates for the price of the work before you move into a house with uneven floors. This way you won’t be stuck with a larger bill than you expected when it’s time to start the project. 

Pros of Buying a House with Uneven Floors

Despite the risks that come with these properties, there are several reasons to consider buying a house with damaged floor joists and other concerns. Here are a few potential reasons to move forward: 

  • You can secure a great price for the home. Get a good deal on the property if the seller is aware of the issue. 
  • There is less competition. Many buyers won’t even consider a home that needs foundation repairs. This means you can bid on properties in higher-demand neighborhoods without as much competition. 
  • Quickly increase your home values. The simple repairs you make can significantly improve your home’s value. This can help if you need to refinance your mortgage or move in a few years. 

You can also enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing you live in a stable house with solid floors, once you make the foundation repairs.

Cons of Buying a House with Uneven Floors

The long-term benefits of buying a house that needs work might be appealing, but you need to make sure the costs are worth it to you. Here are the risks you should consider: 

  • There could be hidden issues. Once you take the first steps to fix sagging floors, you could discover that there are additional problems that need to be addressed and cost more. 
  • Repairs take time. You might have to live in temporary housing for a few months while your repair work gets done. This is an additional cost and it can be frustrating to not have access to your home. 
  • You will have to disclose the repairs in the future. When it’s time to sell your home, you will have to highlight the foundation repairs to prove to buyers that the house is in good condition. 

However, the home repairs could be a positive selling point when it is time to move. Buyers can feel confident that the foundation is in good shape because of your recent improvements.

Be Careful When Buying a House With Sloping Floors

It’s possible to buy a house with uneven floors and still make a safe and financially sound decision. However, you need a clear understanding of any foundation issues and a set budget for the repairs. Without these two things, you risk buying a house that has more problems and expenses than you are ready for. 

One of the best ways to feel confident when buying a house is to hire a quality real estate agent. An experienced Realtor will identify foundation issues and work with you to negotiate with the seller. They can help you get a good deal on the property so you can move forward with repairs. 

To find a Realtor, turn to FastExpert. You can find agents in your area who know how to identify floor issues. Meet some of the most experienced Realtors near you and start the buying process today.

Amanda Dodge

Amanda Dodge is a real estate writer and expert. She has worked in the field for more than eight years. She spends her time writing and researching trends in real estate, finance, and business. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in Communications from Florida State University.

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