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Buyer Beware: 6 Red Flags That Could Spell Trouble for Homebuyers

Picture this: you’ve found a seemingly perfect home in just the right neighborhood. It has every single one of your must-haves, plenty of space, and even all of the features you want. But on the tour, your agent spots a few big problems, like a crack in the foundation or signs of water damage. Should you walk away from what seems like your dream house?

Unless you’re looking to tackle a fixer-upper, you may want to proceed with caution if you run into any of these red flags during a showing.

Watch Out for These 6 Red Flags During a Showing

As you tour homes, it’s important to remember that a seller may not always disclose (or know) the whole truth about their house. If you ever have any questions about a home’s condition, make sure to ask your agent. They’ll often be able to spot problems that you may not see yourself, and they can also help you decide whether or not a certain issue is a dealbreaker. 

And even though a property may appear well-maintained, there could be some lingering imperfections that aren’t visible to an untrained eye—here are a few examples.

Foundation issues

Foundation crack

A faulty foundation is one of the biggest and costliest problems you can encounter in a home. If you spot any foundation cracks (both outside or inside) bigger than one third of an inch, it could mean a property has major structural defects.

Other signs of potential foundation issues include sticking doors, gaps around window frames, or sagging floors.

Outdated electric and plumbing systems

Tools and electrical supplies

A leaky faucet or ungrounded outlet may seem like a quick fix, but they could signal a much larger problem. If you’re touring an older home, have your agent ask about the age of the plumbing and electrical wiring. It’s essential (and expensive) to bring these systems up to code to prevent potential floods or fires.

An old roof

Old roof shingles

Typically, roofs should be replaced every 12 to 15 years. So if you notice some missing or curling shingles, it could mean that a home’s roof has reached the end of its lifespan. If you’re not sure about a roof’s age, be sure to ask your agent—they can get in touch with the seller’s agent for more information.

Water damage

Water damage on a ceiling

Take a look at a home’s ceiling and floors—do you see any dark spots? If so, this could be a sign of water damage, which is often a pricey fix. Be sure to check out a home’s drainage situation, too. A yard that isn’t properly graded could cause water to seep inside after a heavy rainstorm.

Homes that have basements are more prone to leaks than those that don’t, so don’t forget to head downstairs to look for water damage!

Unwelcome critters

Mouse trap

Bugs, mice, and other pests can spell big trouble for a house, especially if the infestation is widespread. Termites in particular should be a huge red flag, as they can destroy a home’s entire structure before being detected.

If you see an overwhelming number of critters wandering around during your tour, you may want to move on right away. You should also check for mud tubes, hollow or rotting wood, and bug droppings, as these are common indications of termites.

Unpleasant odors

Spraying air freshener

Notice a less-than-pleasant scent during a showing? These aromas could be signs of mold, mildew, water damage, pests, improper ventilation, and countless other issues. You should also be wary if a seller seems to be covering up smells with heavily scented candles or air fresheners.

Bottom line: Always have a home inspection

Home inspection report

Even if you don’t spot any of these problems, it’s always best to have an inspection after your offer is accepted. A qualified inspector can spot problems both large and small and will provide a detailed report of everything that needs to be fixed.

From there, you can try to renegotiate the price of the home with the seller or ask them to complete the repairs. However, if a home is being sold “as-is,” you may be stuck doing the work yourself. 

Thinking About Buying Your Next Home?

When it comes to finding the right home, it pays to have an expert agent on your side to handle all the details. Give us a call today to learn more about the premier services we offer to our buyers. We’d be more than happy to answer any of your real estate questions, and we can also help you sell your current home, too!

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