When you find a home that seems to check off all your boxes, you may be ready to jump right in with an offer, especially in a hot sellers’ market like the one we have. However, there are a few red flags you should heed, no matter how long you’ve been looking or how much you love that home. Here are red flags for home buyers to keep in mind to help spot which property is truly a dream home, and which one is a nightmare in disguise.
Red Flags for Home Buyers – Signs of a Cheap Flip
A home that’s been “flipped” has been purchased at a low price, remodeled and updated, and then sold for a profit. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and can result in an attractive property with new fixtures, appliances, and aesthetics. But if the flippers cut corners, this could lead to a property that has big problems underneath the fresh paint. In the flipping world we often call this “polishing a turd”. You don’t want to end up the new owner of a “turd”. It’s easy to let the surface details wow you so be sure to take these precautions. When touring a flip look out for poorly installed fixtures, floors, cabinets, and doors. Ask questions about the electrical wiring and plumbing, and keep an eye out for serious issues like signs of flooding, which might have been painted over or covered up if the home has been recently remodeled.
Home Buyer Red Flags – Trust Your Nose
It’s common for seller’s agents to freshen up an open house or home showing with some scented candles or diffusers, but a strong scent could cause you to miss odors that are warning signs, like the smell of mold, sewage, or smoke. Look for signs of water damage, which could be a sign of a mold problem. If the home was owned by smokers, you may notice nicotine sweating through a new coat of paint, or you can get up close and personal to sniff furniture or curtains, which can hold onto the smell of cigarettes for a long time.
If the floors seem slanted, doors or windows stick when you try to open them, or there are visible cracks, the property could have problems with its foundation. Large trees with big roots too close to the house could also create foundation issues. While some foundation repairs may only cost a few hundred dollars, others could cost upwards of ten thousand dollars once the problem comes to light. This is when home inspection or structural inspection comes in handy.
Staging Tricks to Hide Red Flags
When touring homes it’s important to learn to see past clever staging and pay more attention to the structure of the house underneath the trendy furniture and attractive paint job. Fresh paint can hide signs of water stains. A nice rug can conceal flaws in a hardwood floor or cracks in tile or terrazzo floors. Staged rooms are often missing important furniture that you will want to have when you live there. Remember that even though rooms might look large and open now, they’ll feel different when there are dressers in the bedrooms or a television in the living room.
When it’s a tough market out there and you’ve put in several offers only to lose your dream home, it’s natural to start grasping at any home that meets most of your criteria. However, it’s important to keep an open mind and an eye out for anything that seems off. Looking out for these red flags for home buyers will help keep you away from a nightmare house.