6 Red Flags to Look for When Buying a House

6 Red Flags to Look for When Buying a House

What to Look for When Buying a House

Be a happy home buyerBefore you put your money down and sign that mortgage, make sure you check the fine print. You don't want to get locked into a bad investment. Here are 6 important red flags and what to look for when buying a house.

Have you ever brought something home from the store only to find out it's missing important pieces or doesn't work right? It happens sometimes, but at least you can take it back or exchange it.

Now imagine if that faulty item was instead your new home. After living there for a few months, things start going wrong left and right. Only, you can't exchange this lemon; you're stuck with it.

If you don't want this to happen to you, keep reading. We're going to tell you the 6 most common warning signs to watch out for before you buy. Use this checklist of what to look for when buying a house.

1. Condition of Neighborhood and Surrounding Area

The first place to look for red flags is outside. Learn all you can about the neighborhood.

Is everyone on the block selling their houses? That's a common sign there could be a problem with the area.

It may be a high-crime area or a flood zone. Find out what's going on.

Speaking of flooding, check the yard for signs of poor drainage. If there are puddles or pools of water in the yard, they may overflow and flood the property in the rainy season. Also, if the yard is sloping toward the house, the rain runoff will head that way, too. 

2. Blocked Areas

Never buy a property without seeing all of it. Rooms and outside areas that are blocked off are a big warning sign. Are they hiding something from you? Is there a problem? Find out.

Ask the owners about blocked areas. They might just be finishing some repairs to prepare the house.

But don't take their word for it. Arrange to see the room when it becomes available. Otherwise, don't buy. 

3. Smells

Beware of strange or bad smells; they may be permanent. But also watch out for excessive good smells like potpourri or plug-in air fresheners. The owners may be using these to hide a bad smell.

4. Pests and Other Signs of Poor Maintenance

Check for any signs of poor maintenance. These include an overgrown yard, leaky faucets, excessive amounts of burnt-out lightbulbs and dirty air vents.

These are signs that the current owners don't take good care of the house. They may be leaving you a house full of unfixed problems that are just waiting to get worse.

Another important sign of neglect is pests. Even if you don't see any pests, there could be mice or termites in the walls.

Don't leave it to chance. Always get a pest inspection before buying. 

5. Bad Wiring or Plumbing

Here are two more important problems you may not see without a professional inspection. Leaky pipes and faulty wiring are often hidden in the walls. But since they can cause extreme water damage or housefires, get them inspected.

6. Structural or Foundational Problems

Check for big cracks in the walls, ceiling, and foundation. Check that the windows are properly sealed, unbroken and can open and close correctly.

Don't buy a house with mold or water stains. This is a sign of leaking or other problems you don't want to worry about.

Fresh paint is also a good warning sign, especially if it's only in a few areas. If there is fresh paint on only one wall or a small area of a wall or ceiling, the owners are probably covering up stains or mold.

Also, check for warped walls and saggy ceilings. This could be a leak that the owners painted over. 

Lastly, ask if the house has had any structural work done, especially if there are any very large rooms. This could mean that a wall was removed. If the owners removed a load-bearing wall without adding proper structural support, the whole house could collapse!

What to Look For When Buying a House

Now that you know what to look for when buying a house, you can check for these warning signs. But make no mistake: this knowledge is not a substitute for getting the home inspected. If you want to prevent these problems, you must have the property inspected by professionals before you buy. 

For more help, read 7 Essential Homebuyer Tips.

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