Purchasing a home is a huge long-term investment. That’s why it’s so important to spot problems before you buy. Not all trouble areas are visible when you look at a home, but here are a few house-hunting red flags to keep an eye out for:
- Maintenance: How well have the current owners treated the home? Is the paint faded, the fence sagging, the interior cluttered and dirty? While none of these is a make-or-break issue, signs of poor maintenance may be indicative of larger issues. If the owners failed to keep the home clean, it makes you wonder when they last serviced the heating and cooling system.
- Foundation: This is an expensive issue. If your home has foundation issues, you’re going to pay for it. As you look at a prospective house, inspect it for cracks and bulges in both interior and exterior walls. Make sure the floors are level, and try some of the doors — if they don’t close all the way, there may be foundation issues.
- Bad odors: Nasty smells could mean a number of problems — mold being one of the worst. Odors are also an indication of the overall maintenance and how owners have cared for their home.
- Stains: If you encounter ceiling or wall stains, the home may have a leak that has not been addressed. Also, look carefully for signs that single walls have been painted. This could indicate that the current homeowner is trying to hide a stain.
- No-go areas: Locked or blocked doors and rooms should be a warning sign when looking at a home. You need to see the full property before getting serious about making an offer.
- Do-it-yourself renovations: There’s nothing wrong with a handy homeowner. But if the current owners are conducting significant renovations without the help of a professional, take a closer look at the quality of their work.
- Water pressure: Turn on a faucet for a fast check on the plumbing. If you can’t get water pressure, there’s a possibility the plumbing system is old or has corroded pipes.
- Roofing: Ask when the roof was last replaced. If a home that is 20 years old or more still includes its original roof, it’s only a matter of time before it will need an expensive upgrade. In addition to asking, look for missing or falling shingles — telltale signs that replacement is right around the corner.
- Wiring: Test the lights and ceiling fans. If you can’t get the switches to work, you may have an issue with faulty or aging wiring.
- Pests: Keep an eye out for insects and other pests. Seeing just one bug inside the home could indicate greater issues in areas you can’t see.
- The fixer-upper: Many house-hunters are looking for a deal — a home that has potential but needs repairs and renovation. While it’s certainly possible to get a deal on a fixer-upper, make sure you calculate the cost before making a purchase. The cost of repairs and renovations can quickly add up, putting you in the position of spending more than you could have by simply purchasing a home of high quality from the start.
- Signs and boards: Take a look at the whole neighborhood. If there’s a for-sale sign in every other yard, ask why. Keep an eye out for abandoned and boarded-up buildings, too. Signs like this could indicate that homeowners and businesses are fleeing the area — which is never a positive.
Finally, always get a professional inspection of the highest quality. Experienced inspectors have seen hundreds of homes in all kinds of conditions, and they can provide a full report on red-flag areas before you make a purchase.
A quality realtor can help you manage the entire home-purchase process, including choosing the right neighborhoods, identifying red flags, hiring the right inspector and more. The CENTURY 21 Core Partners team includes deeply experienced realtors who know all the red flags to look for when buying a house. Contact us today.