Top 10 Red Flags for Homebuyers

Generally we buy homes on emotions which I think is perfectly okay. A brand new home or newly renovated one can really hit high on your emotional scale because it’s all sparkly and new, like a new car. But it’s important to not get swept up in all that, as that is only a part of what you’re buying. When purchasing a condo not only do you own the suite but also a piece of the building, common areas such as fitness centre, pool etc and the grounds. Same goes for purchasing a house. What is on the outside is just as important as what is inside. Here are the top 10 Red Flags for Homebuyers.

Jumping Ship from the neighbourhood
Don’t let a home’s curb appeal keep you from glancing down the street. Are there several other homes for sale? Are nearby businesses boarded up or vandalized? Get the scoop from the neighbours. If everyone else wants to leave the street, maybe you should, too. Just do it before you’re stuck with a bad investment.

Mediocre Maintenance
Three layers of roofing and gutters with plants growing in them are signs the owners aren’t big on maintaining their home. What else did they neglect? With a condo development, look for the same signs as well as notices that they have posted for the amenities. If they have a notice posted in the elevator that reads pool is closed for maintenance and it’s 3 months old, I’d for sure be asking questions.

Foundation Cracks
Check out the yard grading. If the yard slopes toward the house, it could cause water to run down the foundation walls or into the basement, which will be costly to repair. Scour the foundation for damage. Bulges or cracks bigger than one-third inch can mean the house has serious structural issues. Always get your home inspected.

Bad Smells (Inside or Outside)
Take a big whiff of the air inside and outside the house. Do you smell anything funky? If you can’t smell anything but the huge baskets of potpourri all over the house, this could be a red flag.

Faulty or Old Wiring
While you’re probably not an electrician, make sure all the switches and outlets in the house function properly. Flickering lights, circuits that don’t work and warm or hot outlets or faceplates are all symptoms of wiring problems.

Fresh Paint on One Wall
New paint can really spruce up drab walls, but it can also hide bigger problems, like water damage, mildew or mold. If the room smells strange or if you see stains or saggy walls or ceilings, have an inspector look for mold and leaks.

Locked Doors and Blockades
Ask about any rooms that are “off limits” during your home tour, and arrange to see them later if you’re interested in the house.
Be sure to tour the entire house.

Foggy or Nonfunctioning Windows
Check for water in between double-paned windows and make sure all the windows are functional. Windows are always stamped with their age, so be sure to not just take the sellers word for it. Also if sellers say “new windows”, it’s a good habit to check if all windows have been done.

Structural Walls or Floors Have Been Removed
Sure you love the open floor plan, but was the house always open or did the sellers renovate? If they removed a load-bearing wall without adjusting the framing, it can shift weight to other parts of the house. Hire a structural engineer if you think any renovations are questionable.

Bugs
No one wants a house with a pest problem, be it roaches, mice or, worst of all, termites. Be on the lookout for unwelcome creatures as you tour the house. Even if no foes pop out while you’re there, consider a separate termite inspection if you’re thinking of purchasing the property.

BOTTOM LINE: Always get a professional inspection
If you’re dropping hundreds of thousands on your new home, spend the $500 to get the home professionally inspected. Skipping a home inspection is not a good way to cut homebuying costs. You’ll end up paying more in the long run when problems inevitably arise.

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