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Six red flags to watch for when buying a house

Posted by Scott Stueber on Apr 27, 2021 10:47:22 AM

Red flags to watch for when buying a homeHome buyers are often overwhelmed with many different thoughts and emotions when house hunting that they often tend to overlook certain things when viewing potential properties.

It’s all too easy to get swept up by the words coming out of your real estate agent’s mouth, so you must always remember to be extremely vigilant throughout the whole home-buying process.

Keep an eye out for these red flags before closing any residential real estate transaction.

1. Unusually Low Price. There’s no real estate red flag more obvious than a price that’s just too good to be true. Many times, homeowners drastically reduce the listing price of their home because it has been on the market for too long, or they’re desperate to sell it. Either way, this could mean something is wrong with the property. 

Before you make any hasty financial decisions, thinking you’ve got yourself a steal, have the house thoroughly checked and try to find out why the property is priced that way.

2. Cracks in the Walls or Foundation. The foundation is one of the most critical structures in a home, and any repairs to it can get expensive. One of the most important things you need to look out for when checking out a house is cracking in the foundation.

While it’s normal for poured concrete foundation to develop hairline cracks as the cement settles, any cracks wider than a half an inch or large cracks that appear to have been recently covered up are a red flag. They could be indicative of possible structural integrity issues or unstable foundation.

3. Outdated Roof. Another very important thing to check when viewing a residential property is the roof. Aside from the fact that roof replacement can cost you tens of thousands of dollars, the make and condition of a home’s roofing system can also have a huge impact on home insurance rates.

One of the first things you’d want to ask the seller is when the roof was last replaced. Try to stay away from properties with roofing systems that are severely outdated or nearing the end of their life span, unless you can strike a good deal with the seller.

4. Weird Smells. Nobody wants to live in a home that smells bad. Unpleasant odors in a home could indicate a number of issues, including mold infestation, water damage, poor ventilation, leaking pipes, and HVAC issues.

It’s not just unpleasant smells that should raise a red flag, but overly pleasant smells should as well. A seller who puts scented candles and other strong artificial smells all over the place could be attempting to cover up unfavorable odors and bigger issues in the property.

5. Fresh Paint. Not all freshly painted homes have a problem. In fact, repainting is one of the best and most budget-friendly ways to prepare a home for a sale, so it’s quite normal for sellers to apply a new coat of paint on the walls before listing their property.

Fresh paint, however, raises a red flag when only random walls or portions of the house have been painted anew. Why would the seller repaint one side of the room or only a portion of the ceiling? It’s possible they could be covering up a problem, such as a defect on the wall or water stains from leaking. Whatever it is that they’re trying to hide, random fresh paints around the home should be a cause for concern.

6. Everybody’s Selling. Location is everything when you’re buying a house. Even the most beautiful property can be a pain to live in if it’s located in a problematic neighborhood. Before you decide to purchase a home, make sure to check out the community around it.

Are there many properties in the neighborhood up for sale? This could mean that there’s a problem with the location. A house that has had many owners in the past also raises a red flag because this could mean that there’s something wrong with it.

Never Forego A Home Inspection

Buying a home is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make in your life – so be sure you do it right. Whether you’re a first-time home buyer or an experienced one, you should never ever waive a home inspection.

There are plenty of problems and red flags that you might not be able to spot on your own. Getting a certified home inspection professional to thoroughly check the property will make you aware of any issues concerning the home you are about to buy. Addressing any major problems before the sale can potentially save you thousands of dollars in homeowners insurance and future repair costs.

Profile_Lauren Summers (002)

About the Author: Lauren Summers is the Content Marketing Strategist for Miller, Miller & Canby, one of the most respected law firms in Montgomery County, and the Washington, DC metropolitan area. The firm focuses on five core areas of practice: Land Development, Real Estate, Litigation, Business and Tax, and Trusts and Estates Law. In her spare time, she reads books and plays board games with her husband and two kids.




This article is intended for general educational and illustrative purposes only and should not be construed to communicate legal or professional advice. Further, this article is not an offer to sell insurance. Please consult with your licensed insurance agent for specific coverage details and your insurance eligibility. All policies are subject to the terms, conditions, limitations, definitions, and exclusions contained therein.

Topics: Home Insurance

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