Red Flags to Look for When Buying a Home

When shopping for a home, it's easy to overlook red flags when you think you've found the home you desire, especially in the current market when the housing options are slim.

Sellers are going to have their home deep cleaned, updated, and staged to sell, with the help of their realtor or staging professional the sellers' home is going to look its best. The overall appearance of the home is going to look wonderful but, you need to make sure to take the time to check for some potentially major red flags.

Here is a list of red flags to look for when shopping for your new home.

Overwhelming ScentsRed Flags to Look for When Buying a Home

When you first walk into a home you are considering buying, take note of the smells. Most homeowners will have a candle burning, a wax warmer, a plug-in, or something similar but, if the smell is overwhelmingly strong, you may want to consider what they are trying to hide.

Walking through the home, perform a sniff test in each room, take a deep whiff to determine if any smells could be related to mold, pet accidents, smoke, etc. Also, take the time to look closely at the walls, ceilings, and flooring for signs of damage, this will not usually be an easy task with freshly painted walls, possibly new carpet, or other flooring.

You should also take a deep whiff outside as well. If the neighborhood has a bad odor, you may want to pass on the home.

Foundation IssuesRed Flags to Look for When Buying a Home

Most homes will have a few hairline cracks from the house settling as it ages but, large gaps are a major red flag indicating issues with the home's foundation. Foundation repair is not a cheap fix, so you want to make sure that it does not need repair before making an offer.

Other ways that can indicate foundation issues, sticking doors or windows, visible cracks above window frames, and sloping floors. Uneven floors may be hard to pick up on, but if you take a marble with you to look at a home, set it on the floor and see if it rolls.

Take a good look at the windows and try opening a few, if the window frame is lopsided or difficult to open this could be a sign of foundation issues.

Neglected Routine Maintenance

When walking through a home, if you notice burned-out light bulbs, long grass, leaky faucets, or faded paint, it could be a sign that the homeowner has neglected the property.

If a homeowner cannot take the time to correct routine maintenance issues, consider what the home inspection will reveal.

MoldRed Flags to Look for When Buying a Home

Checking for signs of mold, you can look under bathroom and kitchen sinks, as well as look around exposed pipes and drains. If there are noticeable black or grey spots this could be an indicator of more serious issues. You can also look around faucets and tubs for black spots or patches on the ceiling.

Bad Ventilation

Bad ventilation can cause a room to become a breeding ground for mold, the moisture never evaporates. You can identify poor ventilation issues by looking around the windows and on the walls for bubbled or peeling paint or condensation on the windows.

Water Damage

Is there a musty odor in the house? This could be a key indicator of water damage. If you don't readily see standing water on the property, take a good look at the wall and ceilings for water lines. Water lines probably indicate a leak or burst pipe.

You can also take a close look in the basement and laundry room for rust, water stains, or leaking.

Cosmetic Enhancements

Take time to lift area rugs to check for damage to the floor, stains, or pet damage is usually easily hidden by area rugs.

If a room has an accent wall, you may pay closer attention, it could be hiding other damage such as mold.

The Takeaway

When looking at a home, especially during a seller's market, you should do your due diligence and perform your home inspection. Take the time to analyze the home before making an offer. Some buyers are finding that to be competitive that they are having to waive contingencies and at times home inspections, so the more you inspect the home yourself, the better prepared you will be.

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