Red Flags When Buying A Home
House hunting could be exciting but finding the home of your dreams may keep you from being skeptical and from proceeding slowly. You don’t want to be stuck with problems after your closing. Keep these few tips in mind when touring a property that may interest you:
Price reduction or a long time on the market
Find out what the average number of days should be between listing and selling a property in the market you’re investigating. A house that is on the market for much longer than the average could mean that there are problems.
How many other houses are for sale on the street?
It could mean that many of the neighbors are retiring and moving to a smaller property or a warmer climate. But an unusual number of “For Sale” signs on the block could be an indication of a common area problem, like crime or nearby toxic chemicals. If it seems suspicious, do your due diligence!
Houses sold “As Is”
A property sold “as is” may be cheaper and easier to buy, but they could also be hiding a number of problems that any inspection can detect. Agreeing to buy an “as is” house usually means that you’re buying the problems — and the owner is not responsible for fixing them beforehand (or after). The best way to approach an “as is” sale is to bring in an army of inspectors: termites, mold, structural, rodents, gas leaks, plumbing and so on.
Do you sense a cover up?
A fresh coat of paint is nice, but you may choose to be skeptical — especially if it’s “spot painting.” That could be an indication of covering a problem: water stains or mold, for instance. The same suspicion could be applied to too much air freshener in a room (covering up pet smells or urine-stained carpets).
Cracks in the foundation
It may happen to all foundations sooner or later, but often a major crack in the foundation may start small and maybe even be barely noticeable. This could be the beginning of more serious stability and safety problems in the future. If you don’t have a radar for foundation cracks, find a professional who does: a contractor who specializes in foundations.
Not all mold is toxic, but many types of mold could lead to respiratory problems and other health disorders. It usually forms from precipitation leaks, so check around sinks, windows, doors, basements, and anywhere water may make an unwelcome presence (even a garage floor or carpet). It’s often easy to smell, and even easier to see: dark, circular-type stains.
Presence of pest infestation
Most everybody knows what it means when termites are detected in a house: the wood and other structural materials may be in danger of weakening and failing. Termites tend to nest underground and seek wood to eat. Your best bet is to have a thorough termite inspection by a professional. Same with a suspected presence of rodents — you can often tell they’re present by the droppings they leave, often by baseboards, where they travel. Get an exterminator to inspect the property and give you an assessment.
It may be uncomfortable to become suspicious and skeptical when it comes to buying a house, but that may be your saving grace when you are looking to resolve all issues and problems before you go to closing. Be proactive and alert when taking a property tour; look for red flags and confront them as soon as possible.