Top 10 Red Flags When Buying a Home

Roxane Agostinelli January 14, 2021

Top 10 Red Flags When Buying a Home

Home sellers are required by law to make certain disclosures when selling their homes. But those disclosures may not give you the full story. Eager sellers may gloss over potential problems with the home that could become big issues for the next owner. If you’re in the market for a new home, then these are the top 10 red flags you need to watch out for.

Weird smells

Your nose can alert you to big problems with a house, so be sure to take a good whiff when you’re touring the home. Smell anything funny? That could mean there’s a mold problem somewhere in the house, which could cause serious health problems. Conversely, if the home smells strongly of deodorizer or fragrances, it could be an attempt to mask a bad odor.

Old wiring

Check to make sure all wall switches and outlets work properly. If lights are flickering or any of the outlets or switches are warm, it could mean the home has old — and potentially dangerous — wiring.

One freshly-painted ceiling or wall

Does the wall or ceiling in one room look freshly painted while the others are not? This can be an attempt to cover up discoloring caused by water, mold, or mildew. You need to make sure the actual problem has been addressed and not just disguised.

Locked doors

Is there a room that is locked or off limits during your tour? That’s a big red flag. You should be able to see every area of the home that you’re considering buying. If your agent is having a problem accessing an area of the home, then make arrangements to see it later.

Infestations

Pests can be a huge problem in a home, and an infestation can derail your sale. Look for signs hat could indicate a pest problem. This can include small piles of dark droppings near the wall or a hollow sound when you tap on a wood surface. That could mean termites.

Cracks in the foundation

It’s normal for foundations to get hairline cracks at some point. But anything larger than half an inch should be looked at by a foundation contractor. Large cracks can mean the foundation is unstable. Also, check for any recently-patched cracks that could be covering up a larger problem.

Do-it-yourself additions

Be wary of any additions that look like they were done by the homeowner. You don’t know if they have the skills required to meet building codes. It could also mean that the addition was completed without a permit.

Standing water

Look for standing water outside the home. Puddles in the yard could mean there is a drainage problem. Standing water near the foundation can cause leaks in the basement and damage to the foundation. Drive by the home after a rainstorm for the best chance to find water issues.

Bargain price

Is the home priced below market value? That’s a huge red flag. Homes that are priced low usually have expensive problems that will need to be repaired after you move in.

Length of time on the market

Finally, check to see how long the home has been on the market. Most homes sell within two months of being listed. If the home has been on the market longer, then that could indicate there are hidden issues or expensive repairs to be made.

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