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Red Flags Home Buyers Need to Watch Out For

Home Buying Red Flags to Watch Out ForHave you ever met someone that appeared to be just about perfect only to find out later that he or she was riddled with flaws? The same thing can happen with houses—I see it every day in my real estate practice. Sure, it's hard to put the brakes on your attraction when the living room you're standing in is perfect for your family and your furniture, but brake you must ― especially if you notice any of the following warning signs.

Poor Maintenance

There is no excuse for evidence of poor maintenance when a home is on the market. Gutters full of leaves and other debris, torn window screens and overgrown landscaping are all signs that the homeowner is either too lazy or too broke to maintain the home. You should definitely wonder what else was ignored over the years.

Additional signs of deferred maintenance include:

  • Peeling or chipped paint
  • Cracks in the walls
  • Peeling paint and cracks in plaster
  • Cracked glass in the windows
  • Stains on the ceilings

While you should never skip the home inspection, it's especially critical if you see any of the signs of poor home maintenance.

Home Red Flags Buyers Should Watch Out For

There are many small things that home buyers must be aware of when they're looking at potential houses to buy. Small maintenance problems are only the tip of the iceberg. Here are some other issues that home buyers must watch for when they're viewing a house for the first time:

  • A dank or musty smell. This can be an indication that a home has a mold problem.
  • Appliances that no longer work. If the homeowner has not been keeping up with appliance maintenance, there may be many other maintenance issues they're not addressing. 
  • Stains on the carpeting. Stains on the carpeting are not that surprising, but they can be an indication that a home has not been cleaned or well maintained by the homeowner. 
  • Cracks in the driveway. A cracked driveway can be difficult to fix and replacing asphalt can be very expensive.
  • Curling or missing roofing shingles. This is an indication that the home's roof is nearing the end of its service life, which can be a very expensive repair indeed. 
  • Poor drainage in the yard. Big puddles after rain storms, sunken areas on the grass and marshy muddy areas on the lawn are all an indication that a property has poor drainage.
  • Signs of rodents. These signs include rodent droppings under the sink and holes in the walls. 

Homebuyers who want to protect themselves from a bad investment must look for all these details and more. It helps to get a home inspection before purchasing a house, as a home inspector will catch problems that home buyers may not notice. 

How's That Foundation Looking

A negative soil grade, where the soil in the back or front yard (or both) slopes toward the house instead of away from it is a signal to you to check the home's foundation. This is because during heavy rains the water will flow toward the foundation and may intrude.

Look for cracks that are larger than 1/3 inch, cracks that run diagonally or bulges in the foundation.

HomeAdvisor estimates that the bill to repair a foundation may cost between $500 and $10,536, although the average spent nationwide is $3,838.

The State Of The Neighborhood

There is an old real estate saying that when one home in a neighborhood is put up for sale, two others will follow. We think that if there are more than three homes for sale in a neighborhood you should do some sleuthing to make sure that the neighborhood isn't in decline. Reasons a neighborhood may be going downhill include:

  • A sex offender moved in
  • Crime is increasing
  • A lousy neighbor
  • The rerouting of traffic
  • Businesses nearby closing up shop

While the three warning signs mentioned above won't necessarily kill your purchase, they should raise a red flag and require further inspection.

For informational purposes only. Always consult with a licensed real estate professional before proceeding with any real estate transaction.


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