Buying a home is a big decision, with no room for buyer’s remorse. Knowing the red flags to look for can keep you from buying a money pit property.
There are several things you should know before buying a home, including red flags, to look for. Whether these red flags are deal breakers for you or not, recognizing them and using them can give you leverage during negotiations. So, ask questions, be skeptical, and keep your eyes open. Here is what to look for when buying a house.
1. Visible Cracks
Cracks anywhere are something to be investigated further before any contract. Cracks in the wall, the floor, and the ceiling can all be indicative of more significant problems. But cracks outside the house toward the foundation of the home are a huge red flag to make a note of. Cracks in the foundation are costly and time-consuming repairs that are best avoided when possible.
2. Neglected Maintenance
Just like buying a car, knowing the maintenance history can help you make an informed decision. The realtor can give you some information about renovations and improvements to the home but look for wear and tear. Homes need consistent care, and if the owners have neglected maintenance, they may have failed to or chose to solve more serious maintenance issues with a temporary solution. Here are a few things to look for:
- Jammed, cloudy, or cobwebbed windows
- Roof in disrepair with missing or broken shingles
- Chipped or faded paint, inside or out
- Clogged gutters
- Grout and tile chips in kitchen or bathroom
3. Bad Smells
Trust your senses. More than a smell of freshly baked cookies or a candle, if there are any overpowering scents, keep that in mind. Bad odors can be difficult to get rid of. And overpowering good smells could be a sign they are working to cover a bad scent.
4. Any Type of Stains
Stains can be more than superficial marks. They can be indicative of a more significant issue, such as water damage or mold. Water damage from a leaking pipe will continue to be an issue with old or neglecting plumbing, while mold can infect your home and harm your family’s health. Look for stains in corners and ceilings of the house. Also, keep an eye out for single walls painted in a room. Sometimes people can cover stains with the excuse of an accent wall.
5. Bad Neighborhood
Get there early or stay after and get to know the neighborhood. Do the other houses have the same curb appeal? If not, that could be a detriment should you ever try to sell. How many homes are for sale in the neighborhood? An excessive amount of listed houses could be a sign of the neighborhood as a whole. An overbearing HOA, poor school district, or any number of issues. Take the time, talk to someone, and ask about the neighborhood. Also, check your local government site for crime statistics and to understand the neighborhood further.
6. Poor Yard Design
Certain signs in the yard can point to problems that will affect you in the future. One of these signs is standing water in puddles throughout the property. The yard surrounding a home should be designed with a grade so that water drains away from the home. When there is not enough grade, water pools and can rot wood or seep into a house, causing costly damage. Another issue can be large trees built too close to the home. Large older trees can have limbs cut, but if the roots spread deep, they can crack the foundation of your home.
7. Length of Time On the Market
How long has the house been on the market? It may just be a buyer with an unrealistic listing price that refuses to budge. But if the price is right and the house is good, there is usually a reason. It is possible damages were found during due diligence for other buyers, or the house is merely undesirable. Also, be wary of homes that have had significant price drops within a short period.
8. As-Is Sales
As-is sales can be good or bad, depending on the condition of the house. If there are minimal issues, you can use them to negotiate a good deal. If there are significant issues, the sellers have already stated they will not pay to fix any problems found during the inspection. This means you will be left to pay for any repairs before you even get to renovate or decorate.
9. Do-It-Yourself Renovations or Maintenance
While a buyer may be proud of the DIY fixes or renovations they have made to the home, consider their qualifications. While the addition may look excellent, wiring, plumbing, or HVAC systems may not be up to code or completed correctly. The cost could be fines, money to fix it correctly, or a fire hazard.
Even if you do not see any red flags, or you have fallen in love with the property, you should never forgo an inspection. Some of the biggest problems with a property aren’t likely to be seen on a tour or open house. Thorough due diligence is the most important part of buying a property, let a professional real estate agent help you find, negotiate, and coordinate the process of buying your new home.