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The Most Common Red Flags When Buying A House

home buying red flags

Watch for these red flags that could be signaling "Buyer Beware" during your house hunt.

  • Many Homes for Sale
    If you fall in love with a house, but notice numerous "for sale" signs in the immediate neighborhood, then you may want to ask yourself why. If there's a mass exodus from the neighborhood, there's probably a reason. You may not want to join a neighborhood where everyone's leaving.
  • An Old Roof
    Replacing a roof can cost approximately $12,000 to $25,000, with a life expectancy of about 20 years. Find out how old the roof is. Make sure you take its age into consideration when making an offer, or look for a home with a newer roof to ensure you don't have to tackle this repair too soon.
  • Unusual Odors
    Mold creates a musky or dank smell, and this is something you don't want to overlook. Head to the basement and give the home a good sniff, as this is where these types of problems like to hide. Also, be leery of a home that uses candles, air fresheners, or even the smell of fresh-baked cookies too liberally. The seller may have something to hide.
  • Uneven Flooring
    Gaps in flooring tile or bubbles in the laminate can indicate poorly laid flooring or a problem with the home's foundation. Both can be costly problems. If the flooring's uneven, you may want to look for a different property.
  • Poor Maintenance
    Look for signs that the home's owners didn't maintain the home well. Poor home maintenance is a problem when buying a house. If the owners weren't changing light bulbs or fixing leaky faucets, what else did they overlook that you'll have to pay for when you buy the home?
  • Fresh Paint in Select Areas
    Does one wall look like it has a fresh coat of paint while all others look old and dull? This may make you wonder what they are hiding. While they could be hiding that fire engine red accent wall that they loved, they could also be hiding signs of water damage, cracks, mildew, or mold.
  • Old Windows
    Like the roof, windows are costly to replace. Old windows also make a home inefficient. Check the windows for signs that they are older than they should be, and only make an offer if it accounts for the cost of window replacement.
  • Old Wiring
    Old wiring and outdated electrical systems can be hard to detect, but you need to check. These systems work but put your safety at risk, and you don't want to be buying a house that's not safe. You can look for knobs connecting to the wires or circular knobs on the fuse box rather than the toggle switches of newer systems. If you're unsure, ask the inspector about the electrical system before you agree to buy the home.

Remember, your job when you're buying a house is to do your due diligence to ensure you know exactly what you're getting. Watch for these red flags, and you can protect yourself from making a poor purchase decision.