Red Flags Buyers Should Be on the Lookout For

You’re dropping a lot of money on your home purchase, so you want to make sure that your dollar is being well spent. Considering the magnitude of such a purchase, it’s vital to take your time looking at homes to make sure the one you want not only suits your tastes and lifestyle, but is also safe to inhabit and won’t come with expensive repair costs in the near future.

To help you make a more informed purchasing decision, here are some red flags you should be wary of when you’re on the hunt for your next home.

Lots of For Sale Signs

If you notice that a lot of homeowners and business owners are on their way out of the neighborhood, that’s a bad sign of worse things to come. Lots of For Sale signs on front lots and boarded-up businesses are certainly red flags that the neighborhood is not exactly in good standing. If people want out, maybe you should steer clear of this particular area too.

It’s important to remember that when you’re buying a home, you’re also buying the neighborhood. This is a big investment, and the last thing you want to do is invest in a location that won’t bring you any returns in the foreseeable future.

Foul Odors

If something smells a little funny in the house you’re considering buying – and it’s not just from their pets or last night’s salmon dinner – investigate a little further. Any musty odors could be a sign of water damage or even mold in the home.

Some homeowners may try to cover up these smells by overdoing it with air fresheners or scented candles, which itself is a red flag. You don’t want to get yourself involved with a home that has major water damage that’s fostering the growth of mold.

Fresh Paint Only in Certain Spots

Many homeowners freshen up the walls of their interior with a new coat of paint in a different color. But if you notice that fresh coats of paint have only been added in certain areas and not entire walls, something might be up. It’s quite possible that the paint patch-up job was done in an effort to conceal any stains from water damage. There could be water leaking from various sources, whether internally as a result of faulty plumbing or from the outside.

‘Sticky’ Doors and Windows

Doors and windows that are tough to open or close could be indicative of structural damage. If the foundation is buckling or sloping, it could cause the doors and windows to ‘stick’ when they are opened or closed. Structural issues are a major problem that could translate into tens of thousands of dollars (or more) to rectify.

Large Cracks in the Foundation

There are various ways to tell if there is something wrong with the foundation of a home, and large, uneven cracks in the foundation are one of them. If you notice any cracks that are at least one-third of an inch wide – either outside or in the crawl space – you’ll certainly want to have this issue looked into by a professional before signing on the dotted line.

In the meantime, you might want to check on the grading of the yard to see if it slopes away from the home or towards it. Of the latter occurs, water can easily pour down the walls of the foundation which can be a real pain to repair.

Sagging Roof Shingles

Any sagging of the roof shingles could point to potential water exposure to the interior. If the shingles are sagging, odds are the underlying roof is sagging too. If water is allowed to reach deeper components of the roof, you could be looking at the issue of rotting wood as well.

Maintenance Issues

Has the current homeowner been keeping up with maintenance on the home and all of its components? If not, that’s something to be wary of. Any broken windows, overgrown landscaping, unsealed caulking around window frames, missing tiles, peeling paint, and dirty air conditioners could indicate that the home is not exactly in proper operating condition.

Amateur Repairs

Many homeowners attempt to take the DIY route when it comes to making repairs in their homes. Unfortunately, not everyone has the skill set required to get the job done right. Oftentimes, homeowners end up making things worse as a result.

Amateur workmanship is something that you need to look out for when scoping out different homes. This can include things such as shoddy plumbing, electrical work, and carpentry. Keep an eye out for anything that falls along these lines when viewing homes, as many of these amateur workmanship issues could be a sign of bigger problems.

Obvious Home Additions With No Permit

If there has been an obvious room addition to the home, ask to see the permit. If the homeowner cannot provide you with one, proceed with caution. Who knows if the work was done according to code. You could wind up with a home that may even be dangerous to live in. Any additions should be done with a permit supplied by the local jurisdiction. Without one, you just never know how solid the workmanship is.

Potential Pest Infestation

There are specific pests that you should be on the lookout for, especially in certain areas of a home. If you notice any destruction that looks like it was caused by some sort of insects or pests, you should be very careful about putting in an offer on the home. Many pests, such as wood-destroying termites, can cause damage to a home that can be extremely expensive to fix.

Old Electricals

Older homes may come with older electrical systems that have not yet been updated. While these might be fine to a certain degree, some electricals are simply too old to be deemed adequate or even safe.

Many older homes may feature electrical panels that still have old knob and tube wiring which can cause major problems. In fact, most property insurance providers don’t even approve homeowners for policies until the knob and tube wiring has been removed and replaced with more up-to-date electricals.

Aside from that, you should also be on the lookout for improper wiring throughout the home. Faulty wiring can be dangerous as it is considered to be a fire hazard.

The Bottom Line

Buying a home is a big deal, and you want to make sure the one you put an offer on is in sound condition. Keep on the lookout for the above red flags, and always have a professional home inspector scope the home out carefully before the deal is sealed. If necessary, bring in other specialists to check out specific components in greater detail to ensure that any hidden problems don’t come back to bite you after all is said and done.