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7 Red Flags You Can’t Ignore When Buying a House

Real Estate

7 Red Flags You Can’t Ignore When Buying a House


It is a rough market out there and many buyers are under pressure to make an offer the moment they find an affordable home. Before taking a plunge, though, it would be wise to scratch under the surface and uncover the potential red flags. Even homes that appear to be in swell condition need to be inspected thoroughly.

There may be some deal-breakers swept under the carpet and you do not want to end up buying a money pit. Thus, keep your eyes open and rely on a third party to conduct a walk-through of the property in case you suspect something fishy is going on.  

Strange odors

Apart from your eagle eyes, awaken your sense of smell. Problems like mildew, mold and water damage are rather difficult to see, but they can be detected thanks to the odor they emit. Closets and basements are particularly revealing when it comes to this important aspect. And if you sense potpourri, freshly baked cookies, or air fresheners, know that it might be a trick to mask other funky smells.

Recent or poor renovation work

Many sellers do quick renovations to make their properties more salable. However, cutting corners is never a good idea, especially if it means bad plumbing repairs, faulty drywalls, subpar and toxic materials, and neglectful renovation in general. Dig into the history of the property and inspect disclosure packets in order to identify when, why, and by whom the repairs and renovations were carried out.

Compromised structural integrity

Things that should definitely raise eyebrows are works without permits, shaky foundations, and structural issues. One of the gravest mistakes is when a homeowner removes the load-bearing wall and undermines the structural integrity as a result. It is advisable to go through structural records and permits or hire a structural engineer to shed some light on this essential dimension.

Test the waters

Plumbing and electrical systems that were never inspected properly are always a cause for concern. Plumbing demands special attention as it represents the blood flow of the home. Sagging floors, water stains, and mildew could point out to leaks and other major issues. Other costly problems may originate from older septic tanks and sewer lines. Therefore, it is recommended to run the water in the kitchen and bathroom and flush the toilets to assess water pressure and drain.

Poor maintenance

When looking for units for sale, pay close attention to potential signs of poor maintenance. These may involve broken fixtures, outdated electrical outlets, sticky doors, cracked masonry, etc. Homes that have not been kept properly always face new owners with extra expenses that could blow the budget after the deal was struck. Instead of jumping ship, it might be possible to negotiate with the owner and prompt him to finance the repairs.

Shady neighborhood

A dream property in a shabby neighborhood can turn out to be a nightmare. Here are some warning signs: Overflowing trash, poor maintenance, piles of debris on the lawn, and extensive traffic in and out of the properties.  To stay on the safe side, do multiple drive-bys of the property at different times of the day. Finally, approach some residents on the street and ask them about the area.  

Roof defects

A solid roof lasts for decades and replacing it is a costly endeavor. So, do not forget to take a good look up there and ask the owner how old the roof is. See whether there are low-quality shingles, sloppy installation works, leaks, or dry rot, which can cause problems, like sagging and crumbling. Inspect the gutters as well and make sure they are in working order.  A few cracked or missing shingles, on the other hand, should not raise alarm.

Look high and low

Looks can be deceiving. It is fine to ignore some flaws, like unfortunate paint choices, but others require a different approach. So, decide on whether you want to ask for the price reduction or move on. Double-check prior to making a bid and remember that the inspection poses the best strategy for bringing the faults to light.

Indeed, there are many overlooked problems that could come back to bite and haunt you once you are handed the keys over. So, do not be in the dark about such an important decision as purchasing a new property. Do your homework before diving in the homeownership adventure and your shining treasure will not turn out to be a can of worms.

You may also be interested in: Should You Rent or Buy a Home in Toronto?

Writer: Lana Hawkins 

Disclaimer: All investing can potentially be risky. Investing or borrowing can lead into financial losses. All content on Bay Street Blog are solely for educational purposes. All other information are obtained from credible and authoritative references. Bay Street Blog is not responsible for any financial losses from the information provided. When investing or borrowing, always consult with an industry professional.


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