Shopping for a home can be exciting. Unfortunately, sometimes we can get too caught up in the excitement and end up ignoring signs that the house we’re looking at might not be the best option. There are a number of red flags that can pop up when looking at homes, and even more when shopping for a mortgage to pay for the home you choose. To help you avoid having a bad home-buying experience, here are a few of the biggest red flags that you should keep an eye out for.
Signs of Foundation Trouble
When looking at a home, be sure to get a look around the outside so you can catch a peek near the foundation. If the home has a basement, ask to see it as well. While a little settling is normal, if you see large cracks, signs of leaks or other indications that there is foundation damage then buying this home is just asking for trouble.
Having insects or other pests in your home is more than just unsanitary: These uninvited intruders can actually damage your home and lead to costly repairs. If you see insects, mice or other pests (or indications that they’ve been in the house recently), it could indicate a pest control problem that the seller has been unable to get under control. Depending on how bad the problem is, this could be a deal-breaker.
Inconsistently Fresh Paint
Seeing freshly painted walls in a house is pretty common and usually isn’t anything to worry about. When the paint only covers certain patches of the wall, though, that’s a different story. Be sure to ask about any small sections of paint that you see as they may indicate damage that was hastily covered up with a little bit of paint. It’s possible that there’s a good reason for it, but that little patch of paint may also be hiding an unpleasant surprise in the wall.
Smells and Stains
Most sellers go out of their way to make a house appear at its very best before letting potential buyers come in. This is why you should definitely take note of any odd smells or stains that you encounter in the house. Smells could indicate leaks, mildew, mold or other problems hiding somewhere in the house. Stains can also indicate leaks and other problems, especially if they appear on the ceiling or near the tops of the walls. Large stains on the ceiling can even signify a leaky roof!
When looking through a house, be sure to spare electrical outlets a glance. If they have visible cracks, discolorations or black smudges on them then you may have electrical problems in your future! While you’re thinking about the electricity, you should also ask to see the breaker box to make sure that it’s well organized and that all of the breakers appear to be in working order.
If it’s been raining, you may see a little bit of water standing in the yard when you go to visit a house. This isn’t necessarily an issue, but stop to think about how long it’s been since it rained and just how much rain you’ve gotten. If there seems to be a lot of water for the amount of rain or if it’s been a while since the last rainfall, that standing water could indicate drainage issues or even problems with a water line or septic tank.
Even if there’s nothing wrong with the house you want to buy, you may encounter red flags during the loan process. Higher than usual interest rates, requirements for additional insurance or flood insurance, added costs and other quirks could mean that you need to find a new lender… or they could mean that there are issues with the property that you missed. Shop around for a better loan if you think you can find a better deal, though keep an eye out for issues that keep popping up at multiple lenders.