Things To Look Out For When Viewing A Property
When something is advertised as too good to be true, it usually is. When viewing a new property that strongly appeals to you, it’s easy to get caught up in the pros without paying attention to the cons. Sometimes you may think that the cons are minor enough to take care of, but even a few cons may not be worth all the pros.
On your property tour, you may already have questions in mind — how many bedrooms and bathrooms? How big is the yard? How many cars can fit into the garage? — but it may be harder to notice troubling defects and structural issues that may make you want to think twice before moving forward with a purchase.
Think “buyer beware,” or at least, “uh-oh,” when coming upon these following property viewing red flags:
- Foundation cracks. This could be one of the most common oversights during an initial property tour. Small cracks in the walls and ceilings (often called hairline cracks) may not be the source of a greater problem (let your inspector decide), but a crack of half-an-inch or wider or patches on the wall or ceiling could be the source of a larger structural issue or an unstable foundation.
- Mold. Not all mold is toxic or dangerous, but some can cause respiratory issues and other health problems. Best places to check for mold: where water can gather, like in bathrooms, windows, basements and crawl spaces. Mold can have a smell too — usually a mildew smell. So when you are sniffing around the property, remember to keep sniffing!
- Infestation. Termites are a serious infestation, so a termite inspection (the sooner, the better) is non-negotiable. Termites themselves are hard to detect, because they nest and usually build tunnels under a house, and stay out of sunlight. It takes a professional inspection. Also look for signs of droppings along the floor, usually near a wall (that could be rats or mice).
- Water stains. Check walls and ceilings for water stains. This could be the sign of a leaky roof or a rotted structure. Yellow or brown water stains could be signs of a plumbing problem. With the help of a professional, find out where the leaks are coming from, and why.
- A new paint job. In most cases, a new coat of paint is a good thing, but sometimes it could be an indication that the owner is trying to hide something, like a defect or a stain. If the paint job or color seems somewhat out of place, this could be a red flag.
- Strong scents. Air fresheners can be nice, but they could also be used to cover up trouble, like stubborn pet waste or smelly mold.
- Too many “For Sale” signs. If there are too many homes on the block up for sale, there could be a problem, such as rising crime or environmental/toxic issues. Do some online research, or ask the neighbors.
- Selling a house “As Is.” This could mean that the seller does not want to be bothered making all the repairs and upgrades that are needed, or that the property is not up to code and that could be left to you to fix. Buying a house “as is” means that you — not the seller — will be responsible for every defect and repair.
- Old/outdated HVAC systems. Air conditioning and heating systems don’t last forever. Buying a house with outdated HVAC could mean you may have to spend thousands of dollars on a new system, or that the existing system does not run well and is not cost efficient. These systems could be on their way to expiring, that could happen after you buy the house.
When viewing a new property, don’t judge a book by its cover. Learn to look for red flags and question everything. If the home really appeals to you, invest in inspectors to help get you answers to your suspicions.