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Avoid These 10 Red Flags When Buying a House

If you’re a first time home buyer, all of the different factors you need to consider when buying a piece of property can seem overwhelming. To make your search a little easier, keep this list of red flags in mind when you’re looking for a house to know how to spot potential problems at any home you’re considering.

First Time Home Buyer? Avoid These 10 Red Flags When Buying a House

1. Problems with the Foundation or Structural Integrity

A solid foundation is essential to the quality of the building it is supporting. That’s why one of the most important red flags when buying a house to look for is a crack in the foundation or any other similar issue. A crack in the foundation can easily be detected during your initial surveying of a home and can save you some costly and time-consuming repairs later on down the line.

In addition to the obvious trouble that a crack in the foundation displays, there are other things to look out for that might clue you in on problems with the building’s structure. Sagging floors and walls or doorframes that are somewhat misshapen are other indicators to look out for. These seemingly small problems may point to a larger issue with the building’s structure that will cost you big time further down the line.

2. Signs of Amateur Construction or Repairs

You want nothing but the highest level of craftsmanship used to construct your house. The same standard should apply to any repairs, maintenance, or expansions that were done after the house was built.

When inspecting a home, keep an eye out for any work that was done that wasn’t done up to a high standard. Such work may be indicative of corners cut during the construction or hasty renovations done by ‘flippers’ hoping to cover up problems to turn a fast profit. In any such case, the shoddy work done in the past can create problems for you further in the future.

3. Evidence of Present or Past Pest Infestations

Nobody likes to deal with insects or vermin disturbing their peace of mind when they’re trying to rest and relax at home. Pest infestations can do much worse than creep you out, however. Some of these creatures also have the capacity to damage the structure of your home, while others pose a threat to the health of those living around them by acting as vectors for diseases to spread.

That makes it important to be able to recognize the signs of an infestation when you’re viewing a home you’re considering buying. Signs of an active infestation, such as the creatures themselves crawling or buzzing around, are easy enough to recognize. But you should also look out for other indications of a problem, such as old insect carcasses, droppings lying around the home, or scratches and other marks that indicate the past presence of pests.

4. Stains Present on Walls or Ceilings

A first-time home buyer may overlook the appearance of minor stains and marks when assessing a potential property they’re considering. After all, these minor aesthetic gripes may seem like a minor problem compared to other more obviously important aspects of the home. But the truth is that these stains can be indicative of much more serious problems that should make you think twice about purchasing a home that shows them.

Stains and marks on the walls and ceilings may indicate moisture or mold issues. Ask questions to determine if these marks are the result of a plumbing issue, a leaky roof, or backed-up water from ice damming. That can give you a clearer idea of whether the issue that caused the stain has been resolved or if there’s an underlying issue that needs to be taken care of before you consider moving into the property.

5. Faulty Wiring or Electrical Issues

Especially when you’re looking at an older home, it’s important to keep an eye out for any issues with the electrical systems in the building. If it’s possible to get an opinion from somebody who is knowledgeable about electrical work, inspecting the fuse box and wiring can be beneficial precautions to take to make sure there aren’t any faulty or potentially dangerous issues.

Many people may not have the technical experience to look for such problems, but there are still steps that any home buyer can take. Look out for flickering lights or malfunctioning light switches as some basic indications of electrical problems. These can be signs that you want to have the home looked at by an experienced electrician before making a final call on if it’s the right purchase for you.

6. Indications of Poor Draining

While you’re looking for red flags when buying a house, it isn’t only the building itself that you should be checking out. Look at the yard surrounding the home you’re inspecting and take note of any build-up of water pooling around the structure. This could be a sign that the land isn’t being properly drained. Overflowing gutters or signs of water damage to basement walls are other signs of poor drainage.

Be sure to have this problem addressed if you notice it on a property you’re considering buying. If water is not drained properly, it can seep into the ground around your house and cause water damage to the basement or even more serious harm to the structure of the building itself. Standing water can also serve as a breeding ground for common pests such as mosquitos, and the moisture could encourage the growth of mold or mildew.

7. Areas Kept Off-Limits During Viewing

Since a home you’re viewing isn’t actually yours quite yet, it’s important to respect the privacy of the current owner. One thing that entails is respecting any boundaries that they lay down in regards to areas of the property you can’t see during a showing. This may not be a red flag in itself, but you should definitely take note of this behavior when it occurs.

Before finalizing a deal for the purchase of the property, make arrangements to see the areas that were missed in the initial viewings you had of the property. While there may have been legitimate reasons for keeping the part of the property off-limits, you’ll naturally want to see that area of the structure before completing any deals to ensure the current owners aren’t trying to hide away flaws in that part of the building.

8. Fresh Paint Used for a Cover-Up

In order to impress a first-time home buyer, the person showing off the property you’re looking at may apply a coat of fresh paint to the walls. This can be done with good intentions, as it helps to show off the best face of the property and add a little personality to the walls and ceilings. But you should always keep a skeptical eye out when inspecting a property, and that includes questioning why a coat of paint was applied.

Check for signs of mold, mildew, water damage, or other potential problems at the site of any fresh paint. Check to see if the walls or ceiling are sagging beneath the new coat of paint as well. One of the red flags when buying a house to look for at this stage of your inspection is if the fresh paint seems out of place, such as if it is only being applied to one wall.

9. Strange Odors Inside or Outside the Home

While many of the red flags discussed here are things that you’ll see when looking at a property, you should also be aware of problems you can detect by scent as well. Take a good deep breath both inside and outside of the home and take note of any strange odors you might detect.

There are a range of problems that can be discovered this way, so look for anything out of the ordinary. From the fetid odor of stagnant water to a nearby landfill, any number of problems can be caught early by a keen nose. Another red flag to look out for is the overabundance of scented candles or air freshener, which the homeowner may be using to mask a foul odor you would otherwise smell.

10. Questionable Neighborhood Around the House

A good home is only half of what you’re looking for when you’re buying property. You want to make sure the place you’re calling home for years to come is located somewhere that you want to live. There are a variety of factors to research, including the quality of the area’s schools if you have any children or plan on starting a family. A large number of people moving out is another indicator the neighborhood might be a bad fit.

You don’t have to go it alone when finding your next dream home. Get the help and experience that a proven realtor in our area can provide when you get in touch with our office. Start your search with David Dorman today!


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