Buying a new home is an exciting prospect. Touring a house can feel like walking around your favorite store, picking out all of the things you love. It’s easy to get distracted by things like fresh paint or nice furniture and forget to look for important structural aspects of the home that can make or break a deal.
Most sellers will be honest and straightforward with you about the state of the home. In some cases, they are required by law to inform you about costly issues with the home (lead paint or sewage issues, for example). Other times, a seller is under no legal obligation to inform you about potential problems with the home. In these instances, you’ll need to rely on your own senses. To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of the top ten red flags to beware of when buying a home.
- Fresh paint
It’s common practice when selling a house to put a fresh coat of paint on the walls. It’s an inexpensive way to spruce up the home for potential buyers. Sometimes, however, the paint is used as a quick fix for hiding more serious issues. Water damage, mold, and mildew can all be covered up, momentarily, by a coat of paint.
- Strong odors
We say “strong” rather than “bad” odors because sometimes someone selling a home will try to mask bad smells with air fresheners or candles. Bad smells in a house can be the result of plumbing issues, humidity, indoor smokers, water damage, pet urine, uncleanliness, and any number of undesirable things.
- Bad roofing
Missing, broken or stacked shingles are all signs that the roof is in need of repair–a costly fix you probably want to avoid if buying a new home.
- Cracked foundation
A damaged foundation could be a sign of serious structural problems with the house. Especially in sloped areas, cracked foundations can lead to water damage in the basement.
- Poor wiring
Don’t be afraid to ask to test out the lights and outlets in a home or take a look at breaker boxes. Flickering lighting and faulty outlets are signs that a home is in need of electric work.
- Pest issues
Many people underestimate the power of insects when it comes to damaging a home. Wood-eating termites and carpenter ants can both devastate the structure of a home and usually results in an expensive repair. Noticing ants is a huge red flag, but if you suspect a home could have an infestation for any reason try to get it inspected by a pest control firm before you make the deal.
- Locked doors and off-limit rooms
When touring a home there should be no areas that you aren’t allowed to see. A locked door or “do not enter” sign are all red flags that the seller may be hiding something in that room.
- Leaking faucets
Small plumbing issues like leaky faucets or toilets that run excessively are signs that there could be even larger issues with the plumbing in the house.
- Deserted neighborhood
Multiple homes for sale in the neighborhood, deteriorating buildings and closed businesses are all signs of a problem neighborhood. It could be due to economic issues or a decaying community, but either way these are things you’ll want to consider before moving into a new neighborhood.
- Defective windows
Windows that are sealed shut, fogged up, or won’t open or close are all signs of costly repairs. You’re going to depend on windows for the security of your home, lighting and aesthetic, and to a minor degree for retaining heat. They should all function properly.
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