Problems To Look For When Buying A House
When searching for homes via social media or real estate websites or even an old-fashioned print real estate magazine, you may come across a home that seems exactly what you need.
However, while a picture can speak a thousand words to your heart, that does not mean every word is a positive comment about the home.
Listed below are the most common red flags to watch out for when looking at homes.
The Pics of Yard and Neighborhood Outnumber Pics of the Actual Home
If you are interested in a particular home, you likely want to see the home from multiple angles on the outside and various pictures of each room in the house.
However, a listing with lots of pics of the neighborhood, or just the yard of the home, and a few pics of the actual house listed for sale is a big warning. There may be a glaring problem with the house, or the home may be unkempt and dirty.
Closed Drapes or Blinds
Any decent photographer will want to take pics of a home during the day to allow sunlight in the home and give the best view of the interior.
Keep an eye out for closed drapes and/or blinds. This might indicate that the room looks out at something unappealing, like a highway overpass, or that there is significant overgrowth in that particular section of the yard.
Sometimes a homeowner is facing financial problems and is forced to sell the home below the mortgage payoff amount. The real estate term for this is called a short sale.
If the owners of the property have faced a money crisis for more than a few weeks, there may be some deferred maintenance items on the house.
Things like air conditioner filters that have not been changed, leaking pipes in the basement, roof leaks, foundation issues, and the presence of termites are just a few examples of expensive issues that might be waiting for you with a distressed sale.
If you decide to buy a home that is being sold as a short sale, make sure to order a home inspection and thoroughly research the cost of the repairs needed to get the home livable and safe.
The Home is In a Designated Flood Area
There are certain areas near lakes and rivers that have been designated as potential flood areas by insurance companies.
This poses two problems. First, the flood insurance policy necessary to protect your home and your possessions will be much more expensive because of the flood designation.
The second problem is the looming threat of a flood. You might lose a significant amount of your possessions, as well as your entire home when a big flood appears.
Too Many Places Listed for Sale in Same Area
You may notice that there are a lot of homes up for sale in the same neighborhood. This can point to one of many factors.
For instance, there may be changes to the local highway system, and a new freeway is planned to go through the neighborhood.
Or there could be an unusual number of robberies in the area, making the people feel unsafe.
If lots of homes go up for sale at the same time along the same street or the same neighborhood, it usually points to something quite negative happening in the immediate area.
Multiple Typing Errors in the Description
Real estate agents can make a handsome commission when selling a home. This means that doing everything in their power to make sure the home gets listed and sold quickly is in the agent’s best interest.
A listing that has misspelled words riddled through the description means the agent either was rushed when preparing the write-up, or the home has a small chance of being sold.
Either way, you should be careful when inspecting the home.
Real Estate Phrases Like “As-Is” or “Fixer-Upper”
Sometimes real estate agents are very blunt and upfront with the condition of a potential home. It does not mean that you should not buy the home, it simply means you should perform extra due diligence before signing a contract to buy the home.
Some examples of the language that indicates the home needs major work are:
- Handyman special
- Sold as-is
- Needs some care or TLC
All of these examples, and examples like them, point to some major flaws with the home that will need to be fixed before you move into the place.
Be Alert to Phrase “Kid Friendly”
The phrase kid-friendly does not always mean something negative.
For example, it could indicate that the home has a nice, large yard where children can play and be safe. Or it could mean the home is very close to a park or pool where kids can be entertained for hours. Or it could mean that the home has large bedrooms with plenty of closet space to accommodate a family with lots of people and lots of belongings.
However, the phrase could also mean that the walls are covered in a wide range of markers, crayons, and other wild decorations. It could mean that there are holes in the walls where kids have crashed their scooters or trikes, and nobody bothered to repair the damage. Or it could mean the floors in the bathroom are sagging and damaged from too much water being splashed around in nightly baths.
Just be sure to inspect the home and pay attention to small details throughout the various rooms.
Vintage Can Mean OLD
Sometimes the word vintage is used to flatter an older car, or home, to brag on the craftsmanship and the hands that made it.
However, there are times when vintage simply means the home is old and has never received any kind of update.
This could be merely cosmetic. Fresh paint, updated floor coverings, and a few modern accents could renovate the home and make it more modern and attractive.
However, if it means the home does not have any central heat and air conditioning, the plumbing is 75 years old, or the wiring system looks like it was completed by a blind man, then it could be very expensive to update the home to modern living conditions.
Buying a home in a newly developed neighborhood can be a very good thing. A new neighborhood can signal the new hotspot of your local area and you may enjoy increasing home values for the next several years.
However, a new neighborhood also comes with some issues. There will be construction crews in and out of the neighborhood, creating extra traffic along with lots of noise during the day. New areas may not have smooth traffic conditions.
A new area can be a great investment if you take the time to research the area and determine that it fits your needs.
Home is Re-Listed
There are times when a person or family has trouble with the financing to buy a home. Whether it is income, money for the down payment, or an unexpected credit issue, the buyer simply cannot get qualified for the home loan. If that is the case, then the home is not the issue in the transaction.
However, there are a few instances in which the potential buyer saw something in the home inspection, or a walk-through of the house, and decided that this home was not right. Ask your real estate agent if they can provide you with a copy of the home inspection and review it for any issues before you put in an offer to buy.
Online Listing Does Not Include Pics from Inside the Home
The idea of a listing online is to gain the attention of potential buyers and hopefully obtain a sales contract. This means that the home would need to be shown in the best light and angles.
If the listing has zero photos from the inside of the house, this sounds like a bad home. It could be that the agent forgot, or was rushed, and simply forgot the images showing the bedrooms, bathrooms, and other areas. Or it could be a sign that the inside of the place is simply a mess and likely to push away potential buyers.
Price Seems Too Low
There are times when a seller is desperate to get rid of the home and will place a low price on the place to gain as many viewers as possible.
However, there are other situations in which the home is priced so low because it has some serious problems, such as a structural issue with the roof, damage to the foundation, or some other item that will be a major expense to fix.
Just remember the old saying, if the price seems too good to be true, then it could be a signal of a big problem.
The Homeowner’s Association Is Too Demanding
Some neighborhoods have a homeowner’s association that takes great pride in keeping the area looking nice and making sure all the residents are happy with the community.
But other associations have a list of restrictions a mile long and they want to charge an extremely high price for the privilege of living in the area.
Ask the real estate agent if they can get you a list of the rules in place with the homeowner association as well as a sit-down meeting with the association.
The Listing Sounds Like a Cheap Romance Novel
Most homes have numerous attributes that the agent will highlight in the listing by using a few well-placed adjectives. However, there is a limit to the adjectives for any situation.
If the online listing has more positive praise and positive adjectives than actual information, it could be a home that does not have much to offer.
Keep an eye out for Words That Indicate a Small Home
Sometimes there is no way to hide the fact that a home is simply smaller than other homes in the area. An agent may describe the place as being extremely cozy. Another agent may point out that the home is so quaint.
This could be a true feeling of the home once you inspect it. Or it simply could be that the home is quite small. Make sure the size of the home is appropriate for your living conditions.
The Home is Considered an Investment Property
Some homes have been bought and sold a few times between real estate investors because they have found a good rental property situation. These homes will often be known as investment property areas among the local agents.
This typically means that a tenant currently lives within the home and has a valid lease that will need to expire before the new owner can move in.
Another cautionary tale is that tenants do not always care for a home with the same attention as an actual owner.
Beware of Vague Terms that Do Not Indicate Anything Specific
It is really easy to understand that the roof was replaced within the last 3 years, or the kitchen has new tile, or the heating and air conditioning unit was replaced last summer. Those are definitive aspects of a home, and you understand what you are getting.
However, a simple phrase like “the home was recently updated” or “we have given the home a facelift” does not provide the same level of detail. If a home has been updated, ask about the updates, when they were done, and who completed the work.
Summing Up Home Buying Red Flags
Keep in mind that all of the things mentioned above are not inherently negative. Rather, this is just the experience of many real estate agents pointing out their experiences from across the years. It is simply a good idea to pay attention to these kinds of details and dig a little deeper if you see any of these signs.
About the author: This article on “Red Flags To Watch For When House Hunting” was written by Luke Skar of MadisonMortgageGuys.com. As the Social Media Strategist, his role is to provide original content for all of their social media profiles as well as generate new leads from his website.
We provide award-winning customer service to clients who need to purchase a home or refinance an existing mortgage.