Buying a home is a monumental event in anyone’s life, whether you’re a first-time home buyer or an experienced home buyer. The process usually gets overwhelming and it is normal for emotions and feelings to overcome you and cause you to lose focus, but it is important to know what red flags to look out for when buying a home.
Sometimes, sellers are eager to make a sale and withhold some details on the property they are selling. Traps abound in home purchasing, whether it is choosing the wrong mortgage rates, taking on the wrong home loan or being stuck with a home in major need of repairs that ends up costing you money you could’ve otherwise saved.
Red Flags To Look Out For When Buying A Home:
- Foundation/Structural Problems – The foundation of the home is one of the most important parts, and correcting structural issues can be very costly. One way to know if a home has a structural problem is to look at the door frames throughout the home. Doors that will not close are a sign that framing members have shifted. Sometimes, the homeowners may have cut a bit off the top or bottom of the door to get it to close. The best way to detect if the house has a foundation or structural problems is to hire a structural engineer to do a home inspection. There may be many other signs, including cracks in the wall, that an engineer or home inspector will detect.
- Structural Walls or Floors Have Been Removed – The structural engineer is an excellent asset to have when you find that parts of the house’s renovations are questionable. If a load-bearing wall is removed without adjusting the framing, it can shift weight to other parts of the house. This can be detrimental to the structure as each section has a limit on the amount of weight it can hold. It is imperative to ensure that all load-bearing walls from the original structure are present.
- Level of Maintenance – Roofing containing multiple layers or gutters with plants growing in them are signs of poor home maintenance. The property is more likely to be in a deteriorating condition if basic maintenance was not done.
- Multiple Properties For Sale In The Neighborhood – If you see multiple ‘for sale’ signs in any neighborhood, something is wrong. It cannot be a coincidence that many homeowners want to leave at the same time. There could be issues with crime, odors from nearby landfills or other sources. Some investigation should be done if you notice multiple properties for sale. Rule out any serious issues before you commit to the purchase.
- Moldy Smell – Mold can lead to major health problems when you are exposed to it for an extended period of time. You would usually find moldy smells coming from the basement or attic of the home as a result of excess moisture or flooding. Your home inspector should also check the walls for mold during his inspection. Simple things like moisture or leaks with the HVAC systems can cause mold in a home.
- Pest/Insect Infestations – When buying a house, buyers must be on the lookout for certain pests during the home buying process. Wood-destroying pests can cause serious damage to the structure of the home and will cost thousands of dollars to repair. The most common pest to be on the lookout for includes termites and carpenter ants.
- Signs Of Leaks – Wooden properties can rot away over time with the trickle of water from a leaky roof or window. Do not make an offer on a home until you know where a leak is coming from and how much damage it caused. Look out for water marks on the walls, ceiling and floors. It could indicate flooding or plumbing problems that could be an extreme cost to you and your homeowner’s insurance company in the future. Discuss with the seller if they are willing to make the necessary repairs. It might not be worth it for you if they aren’t willing to fix it.
- Saggy Ceiling – Sagging ceiling poses a safety issue for the home. Even if the sag is only slight, it can result from roof leaks or an insect infestation that is eating away at the joints and fixing this can be expensive. Get answers on this before you agree to purchase the home.
- Random, Fresh Paint – Giving a house a new paint job is a good way to prepare a house for sale and is recommended by the real estate agent. However, the realtor does not suggest that the homeowner paint a single wall or area of the house when preparing the home for sale. That usually is a red flag to look out for when buying a home. It shows that there is something the owner is trying to hide.
- DIY Additions or Repairs – Many homeowners will attempt do-it-yourself projects around their homes, and amateur workmanship is one red flag that home buyers should be on the lookout for when viewing properties. Some homeowners can do quality work and repairs but they rarely have the knowledge and skills that meet building codes. Structural, plumbing defects and wiring issues may be because of no oversight from the local building authority.
- Odors – Homeowners can develop immunity to pungent odors. Odors coming from a house is one of the easiest ways to lose a sale. Both pleasant and foul odors can be a red flag when buying a new home. The pleasant odor raises concern when there are lit candles and air fresheners plugged in an outlet in every room. Too many pleasant odors mean that a foul one is being hidden, and is also suspicious. When looking at homes, if either of these scenarios were to arise, it is important to find out more and ask the homeowner, or have your realtor or home inspector find out more.
- Poor Neighborhood Condition – The buyer should note when doing a home purchase that they are not just purchasing the lot they are sitting on, but they are buying into the whole community. A neighbourhood that has an overall poor condition is one thing to look out for when purchasing a home. Things such as unkempt yards or properties, junkyards, and loitering are red-flags. Buyers should look for things such as boarded-up properties and a high number of vacant properties in the neighbourhood.
- Electrical System Issues – The Electrical system of the home will have issues depending on the age of the home. It is understood most home buyers are not professional electricians, however, simple things such as turning on light switches, checking for flickering lights, and checking outlets are all good ways to tell if the electrical seems to work properly. Most home inspectors will check the switches and wiring to ensure that the system is not of a safety concern. Two of the most common findings are issues with the electrical raiser cable and electrical wiring throughout the house.
- Poor Drainage/Grading – Water in a home is something that almost every home buyer will be terrified of. They directly relate most water problems in a home to poor drainage or grading. Also, if the yard slopes toward the house then it could mean that water is running into the foundation walls so check the yard grading.
Buying a home is a big deal. Home Pro Inspections has a team of qualified and experienced home inspectors with razor-sharp eyes that don’t miss anything when inspecting a home. If a property has an issue, our team gives you the best chance of finding it. Contact us for all your home inspection needs and when you want to know what red flags to look for when buying a home.