Looks can be deceiving. A home that looks like a charming fixer upper could end up being a huge financial burden to you and your family.

You feel as though all your dreams are about to come true the moment you acquire that home you have long adored. But wait; don’t rush into a commitment that could turn out to be a potential financial disaster for many years to come.

There is practically no point falling head over heels in love with a house if it has too many underlying issues or that it simply does not represent your needs, expectation and budget.

Unlike clothes or appliance shopping, buying a house doesn’t come with money back guarantees as soon as the harsh reality of it not being a sound investment hits you. To avoid getting into trouble, here are 5 easy ways to spot a money pit.

1. Condition

Maybe you’ve longed to embrace the country charm and rustic look of that particular house. Or its architectural details borrowed from the bygone eras are simply astounding. Maybe the bold stripes, weathered wood and boat motifs that render it that coastal chicness make you swoon with delight.

But as the saying goes, ‘Don’t just a book by its cover’ – because it takes more than the exterior surroundings or the lovely design details in plain sight to ensure that a house is truly worth an investment.

Bring a qualified building inspector during open house so you can investigate for anything that would require extensive upgrading or repairs.

A fixer-upper can be either a great find or a total money pit. And if you don’t have the extra cash to spare for all the re-conditioning that needs to be done, don’t be afraid to walk straight out of the door and into another available house around.

2. Size and Configuration

Does the house have the right size to accommodate your family’s specific needs? Is the ratio of bedroom to bathroom proportional to your expectations? If it is rightly sized but will need just one more bathroom/bedroom addition or a tiny patio, can you afford the extra expenses that it would entail? How would you address that one-car garage for your two family vehicles? Is the countertop space just enough to handle your busy cooking schedule?

These and more are some of the questions you have to ask before inking the deal. If you notice that most of the answers do not work on your favor, you might just be putting money down the drain if you try to push through with buying that particular house.

3. Neighborhood Quality

Easy-Ways-to-Spot-a-Money-Pit-2Most people just can’t help themselves with a property simply because of what they’ve seen and how they felt once inside it. But you also have to consider other important factors such as crime rate, sounds and smells, and culture, among many others before letting go your hard-earned money for a new house.

Assess the overall neighborhood quality and determine if you can envision the whole family living here on a long-term basis or even spending the rest of your life here. A questionable neighborhood reputation won’t just compromise your family but will also decrease the potentiality to sell the house in the future.

4. Public Services and Amenities

A good indication that a property is worth its price and to be called your home is its proximity to or the availability of public services and basic amenities within your area.

But it all depends, actually, on your hobbies and interests. If you prefer to cook so you can save money but it will take you more than an hour to get back from the supermarket (because of traffic), you have to seriously reconsider other options available.

5. Resale Potential

If you can see yourself growing old on its front porch, then that would be great. But don’t forget to factor in inflation and potential deprecation of properties around the area as well as if it’s located in a disaster-prone community. If you would be forced by these unexpected circumstances to sell your house, what is the likelihood that somebody would want to buy it and would you be able to recoup your original payment for it?

Take time to investigate and don’t regret getting the services of a licensed real estate agent – because you don’t deserve to acquire in a money pit and live a life of regret because of it.