Red Flags to Watch Out For When Buying a Home

When buying a home it’s not uncommon for you to be overwhelmed with many different thoughts, feelings and emotions. There are certain things that you should look for when viewing potential properties. Items such as the ages of the roof, furnace and hot water heater are just a few things you should look for when purchasing a home. You should also be looking for potential red flags when you are viewing homes. Some homebuyers are scared away from a home easily and others aren’t scared by the state of a home. Many red flags that you should be looking for are things that shouldn’t be taken lightly. If any of the red flags you see are important, they should be addressed prior to signing on the dotted line. Here are some potential red flags to watch out for when buying a home:

Potential foundation & Structural problems: one of the most costly repairs to a home is correcting foundation problems. The foundation is the most important part of a home. A home with a problematic foundation can cost thousands of dollars to fix. When looking at homes, it’s important to be aware of the foundation. If the home has an unfinished basement it can be easy to see if there is any cracking in the foundation. Minor cracking may only be a sign of settling in the home, large cracks can be a sign of structural problems with the foundation. If a home doesn’t have a basement or has a finished basement that doesn’t allow for you to look at the foundation, a way to tell if your home is experiencing structural problems is by looking at the door frames throughout the home. If the door frames seem not to be square or the doors seem to have difficulty closing, it’s possible there could be some problems with the homes structure. The best way determine whether a home has foundation or structural problems is by hiring a structural engineer to conduct an inspection.

Pest and/or Insect problems: depending on the area of the home, there are certain pests and insects that you as a potential buyer need to look out for. A severe pest problem should raise a red flag. Many pests, especially wood destroying pests, can cause damage to a home that can cost thousands of dollars to fix. The most common pests that should raise red flags include termites, powder post beetles and carpenter ants. The cost of a pest inspection is fairly inexpensive. The cost of a pest inspection is worth it since a pest or insect problem can cost a significant of money to correct.

Random fresh paint: one of the best ways to inexpensively prepare a home for sale is freshly painting. Painting a room is an inexpensive way to make a room feel fresh and clean. This is one of the biggest recommendations that real estate agents give to homeowners prior to listing their home for sale. Real estate agents will not suggest a homeowner paints one wall or a small area on a ceiling to cover up prior damage. When looking at homes, a room with only one wall or small portion of the ceiling that has been freshly painted should be a red flag. Why would a seller only paint a small part of the ceiling? Or only one wall? It’s possible the seller is trying to cover up a problem, which should be a cause for concern.

Amateur workmanship & Repairs: you may be a homeowner that is able to do work or repairs around their home themselves. This might not always be the case; it may not stop you from attempting Do-It-Yourself projects around your home. Amateur workmanship is one red flag that you as a potential buyer need to be on the look out for when viewing properties. Some of the most common amateur workmanship jobs to keep an eye out for when looking for home include plumbing, carpentry and electrical work. When looking at homes it is a good idea to keep an eye out for leaky faucets, toilets, missing trim work etc. Many of these amateur workmanship issues are not discovered until a home inspection is completed.

Stains on walls and/or Ceilings: if a seller hasn’t attempted to cover up stains on a wall or ceiling with paint, this should be viewed as a red flag when buying a home. If there are still stains on a wall or ceiling in the home, its important to find out what has caused these stains. It’s possible the stains are from a prior problem that has been corrected. Not investigating a stain on a wall or ceiling can cost a buyer thousands of dollars in repairs in the future.

Electrical system issues: depending on the age of a home, it’s possible there are issues with the electrical systems. Inadequate or electrical issues need to be viewed as a red flag for a buyer. Many older homes still have older electrical panels with fuses and even some homes still have knob and tube wiring, which can cause significant problems. Simple things such as turning on light switches, checking for flickering lights and checking outlets are all good ways to tell if the electrical is working properly. Most home inspectors will inspect the electrical panel and test the outlets to ensure the electrical systems are not a safety concern. Two of the most common home inspection findings are issues with the electrical raiser cable as well as improper wiring throughout a home. 

Poor drainage/Grading: water in a home is something that almost every homeowner is terrified of. Most water problems in a home are directly related to poor drainage or grading. Poor drainage is something that isn’t always easily detected. An obvious sign of poor drainage is pooling water.  If the yard of a home has mini lakes, it likely has poor drainage, which can lead to water problems inside the home.  Other signs of poor drainage can include overflowing gutters, migrating mulch in the flower beds, water stains on basement walls, and cracking in the foundation. Proper grading can make a huge difference when it comes to water problems.  It’s common sense that a negative grade resulting in standing water on the foundation can create water problems.  It’s important that the overall grading is sloping away from the homes foundation and that water is being run-off away from the homes foundation.  A relatively easy and inexpensive way to keep water away from a homes foundation is by installing gutter downspout extensions.

Mold: similar to water problems, mold problems should raise red flags when buying a home.  Mold can lead to major health problems, especially for young children.  Mold problems are not always easily discovered, however, if a home you look at has mold problems, you need to consider whether the home is the right fit or not.  There are many considerations that need to be taken into account to help determine whether buying a home with mold is the correct decision or not. Mold remediation can be completed on a home, however, it can be costly.  Like many of these red flags, most home inspectors can help discover mold problems in a home. The most common areas for mold in a home are basements and attics.  There are companies that can perform mold tests to determine whether for certain a home has mold or not.


Eti Pricope
Sales Representative

CENTURY 21 Miller Real Estate Ltd. 
Brokerage Independently Owned and Operated 
#4 Office in Canada
By Production CENTURY 21 Canada 2013
467 Speers Road, Oakville, ON L6K 3S4

Cell:       647.923.7576
Office:   905.845.9180








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