Red flags when buying a home
Red flags when buying a home

By Alena Kairys

Dec 28, 2020

When you’re forming new relationships, you need to be aware of potential red flags. The same goes for when you’re searching for a new home. It’s possible to overlook a potential issue because you’re too fixated on a positive aspect, like the price or something superficial. When you’re ready to become a homeowner, be on the lookout for these red flags when buying a home.

Structural Problems

Structural issues are one of the greatest red flags to watch for because they tend to be the most expensive to fix and the most dangerous to live with. Look out for cracks in the walls, floor, and chimney. Cracks don’t just indicate age; they can also be a sign of water damage. Sometimes doors that don’t shut correctly can mean the house is settling unevenly. Look inside the home for uneven flooring and inspect the property outside for cracked, leaning, or gapping areas.

When inside the house, check for sagging and signs of water damage. Both can signify a roof in need of repair. It’s common for home sellers to repaint rooms in the home, but be suspicious when the paint is not uniformly applied to the walls and ceiling. Additionally, your real estate agent should be able to tell you when the last time the roof was replaced.

Unpleasant Smells

If you walk into a house and smell something funky, it may be indicative of a larger problem. Musty or mildew smells can mean there is mold or water damage somewhere, which is not something you want to deal with. Though cigarette and strong pet odors aren’t a sign of structural damage, they tend to permeate a home. These smells are very difficult to remove without fumigation and carpet cleaning services. On the other hand, a house that smells strongly of air fresheners and candles can be a sign that the scents are trying to cover up something else. You can ask your real estate agent for more information about the home’s previous owners.

Dog on a couch

Market History

Sometimes the home’s market history can be telling about its problems. You may want to be wary if the home you like has had a significant price drop, especially within a short time frame. Desperation isn’t a good look, and in some cases that move is a tactic to get rid of the property before the problems can be addressed. It’s wise to ask your real estate agent for a timeline of the home’s market history. Was there a string of interested buyers who dropped out before closing? If so, it could mean there was a serious problem that was a deal breaker for the buyers.

Poor Drainage

A house that has drainage problems is a recipe for structural and water damage in the future. When you’re outside, take note of any elements that slope towards the house, such as driveways or porches. Does the drain spout lead away from the home or does it drop off right at the base of the house? If you see either of these conditions, you may want to reconsider your interest or plan to pay for modifications. It’s a good idea to visit the property after it has rained to see how the house handles it. Standing water in the yard and near the foundation are another sign of poor drainage.

Not Feeling It

While it’s rare to find the perfect house that fits all your boxes, you should be able to see yourself living and being and happy in the house. If you have doubts about your feelings of security or commute time, these are major warning signs—don’t ignore your feelings and keep looking. Even if you’re not looking for your “forever home” you should at least like the house itself and the local area. Buying a home is a huge commitment, so don’t overlook a gut feeling that you won’t enjoy living there.

Depending on the severity of these issues, you may be able to spot them at an open house or virtual tour, but some you may not. That’s why it’s even more essential to have a home inspection performed so you are aware of and know the extent of the home’s problems. The inspection report will allow you to make a more informed decision about your purchase.

You should always consider how much money you have in your budget for repairs and how much work you’re willing to invest into your new home. Sometimes the cost and effort to make a house move-in ready just isn’t worth it. Being able to identify red flags in a home and knowing when to walk away will save you time, money, and heartbreak.

If you have any questions about the home buying process, contact one of our licensed Mortgage Loan Originators. If you are ready to begin the home buying process, click here to get started!

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