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Buyer Beware! House Hunting Red Flags – Part 1

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Buyer Beware! House Hunting Red Flags – Part 1
4 min. read

If you’re looking for a home and you already narrowed down your search to a few properties, it’s time to start digging a little deeper. Researching the neighborhood, the history of the property and going to see the house in person are all necessary steps if you want to make the best decision.

This process should make it easier to spot all the red flags. While some issues are minor and should not stand between you and your dream home, the following problems are very serious, and you should think twice about investing in a home if you notice any of them.

Shabby-Looking Neighbouring Properties and High Crime Rates

Choosing the right area or neighbourhood is one of the first steps when looking for a home. Finding a home within your budget comes first, but you should also check the crime rate in the area and, if you are moving with kids, the school rankings.

Visiting the property should be an opportunity to get even more information on your possible future home. Are the surrounding properties well-maintained or do they look unkempt? How many homes for sale are there in the neighbourhood? Be on the look-out for these issues next time you visit a new property:

  • A lot of homes for sale in the area
  • Run-down fences, faded paint, or messy yards
  • Boarded-up windows

Don’t try to play down any of these problems; think about how you feel about these factors in the long term and make your decision accordingly.

Foundation Problems

Hairline cracks are not uncommon, and are also fairly harmless: they are a sign the house is settling into position. However, larger gaps are definitely a red flag. Whether you’re thinking about buying a new home or an older construction, deterioration of the foundation only leads to bigger problems and can end up costing you a lot of money to fix.

So how can you spot these problems before buying the house? These are some of the signs that will help you spot an unreliable foundation:

  • Big cracks on the walls, floors, or where the walls meet the ceiling
  • Visible cracks above window and door frames
  • Sticking doors and/or windows
  • Misaligned porch or front steps
  • Uneven floors (roll a marble from one side of a room to the other to spot this issue)

Grading

The slope (or grading) of the area surrounding the house affects the way the water drains after rain or snow-melt. This is why it’s really important to get the angle just right; if the water pools around the house, or worse, if the land slopes towards the house, you might have big problems in the not so distant future. When visiting the house, check for these signs:

  • The yard slopes toward the house
  • Puddles of water in the yard or patches of dead grass or no vegetation
  • Water pooling around the foundation

Leaky Roofs

Leaky roofs are problematic because they come with a whole host of related problems which affect the entire house. The water damage caused by cracks in the roof can lead to mold and rot, which not only cost a lot to remove, but may also wreak havoc on your health: mold can affect your respiratory tract and trigger allergies. Excessive humidity can affect many areas of the house, and it’s one of the main bathroom problems many home owners encounter, but when the roof is involved, the damage can be quite extensive.

The signs that will help you detect roof problems are:

  • Excessive moss on the roof
  • Missing or broken shingles
  • Dark spots or chipping paint on the ceiling and walls
  • Recent work done only on a small area, not the entire wall

When visiting a property, it helps a lot to remember these signs and to make a mental checklist of all the red flags you notice. Having to deal with serious renovation work after you buy your new home is not an ideal situation, and you should at least know what to expect. Many of the problems listed above can eat up a lot of your time, money, and energy, so it’s better to be on the look-out so that you can avoid them.

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