It’s no secret that buying a house is a huge financial and emotional investment. But, risks are always certain whether you are a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned veteran. Vital questions you may ask to assess the risks are:
- Are there any hidden costs?
- Am I prepared for the maintenance and repairs?
- Can I access the homeownership history?
- Who are my neighbors?
- Is the neighborhood well maintained?
- Is the location secure?
- What are my deal breakers?
Answering these simple questions will help you do your due diligence, ensure that you detect any home warning signs, and avoid unpleasant surprises down the road. When buying a house, warning signs may indicate that a particular property is not worth the investment.
Warning Signs When Buying a House
When you’re considering buying a house, look out for warning signs that could indicate serious problems. Here are five crucial signs to look for when buying a house.
Water Intrusion and Maintenance of the Existing Home
Water intrusion is a major issue in many homes, so look for any signs of water damage before making an offer. Ask about the home’s maintenance history. This will help you to pinpoint whether the previous owners kept up with regular maintenance. It could also inform you of significant problems lurking beneath the surface.
Things to check when buying a house with water intrusion and maintenance issues are:
Water can cause severe damage to a home. If not properly maintained, the house can fall into disrepair so it is vital that the home is water-tight.
The signs of water damage to look for are:
- Water stains on the ceiling or walls
- Cracks in the foundation
- Peeling paint: Often indicates moisture problems, which can lead to mold and mildew.
- Musty smells
- Evidence of previous water damage
Maintenance of the roof, windows, and doors:
The roof’s condition is an important issue. You would rather buy a home that needs interior design fixes than a home with a wonky roof. Poorly maintained roofs may lead to mold, bugs, and water damage.
If the roof is in bad shape, you’ll likely have to pay for expensive repairs or replacements. Be sure to have a professional inspector look at the ceiling before making an offer on the property.
Inspecting windows or any place where water and outdoor elements can get in is also crucial. If the windows are old and in disrepair, it is likely that they are not properly sealing the home from the outdoors. This can lead to serious water damage. Thus, poorly maintained windows are red flags when buying a home.
Other maintenance issues include pest damage, wall cracks, and uneven floors.
Surrounding Area / Municipality / Neighborhood Home Pride
If the neighbors are not maintaining their homes, it will reflect on your property and could affect the value. Drive by the house at different times of the day and week to get a sense of the neighborhood.
Maintenance of public infrastructure will inform you if a neighborhood is on an uphill or downhill trend. If the municipality doesn’t seem to have ownership pride, then the public infrastructure maintenance will be poor.
Poorly maintained sidewalks, roads, and bridges can signify neighborhood neglect. You can also check on serious sewer and other essential system problems. Unfortunately, these factors can also represent high crime rates in the neighborhood.
The ownership history of the house could reveal another warning sign when buying a house. Several owners over a short period are a sign that there are underlying issues with the property. Be cautious if the current owner is reluctant to provide information about the house’s history.
You can get ownership history through your real estate agent or public records. Look out for foreclosures and check the eviction history. These could indicate that the property is not a wise investment.
Taxes & Insurance
Understand the position on property taxes and insurance. If the seller is not current and up to date with payments, they may be struggling to keep up with the mortgage payments. This could eventually lead to a foreclosure, leaving you without a home. So always do your due diligence and check out the property taxes and insurance before making an offer on a home.
Ask about any potential tax consequences of buying the property. These will differ from state to state and you don’t want to be stuck with a huge bill down the line! So, check taxes and insurance for your home in your location with your agent. For example, if you’re above the age of 65 in Alabama, you are exempted from property taxes.
No Inspections Allowed
If the seller refuses to allow inspections, that’s a huge red flag when buying a home. Another sign of suspicion is if the seller is unwilling to provide any repair records or other documentation. It could mean that the owner is hiding something about the property’s condition.
So don’t take the risk – walk away from any deal where the seller isn’t being transparent about the home’s condition.
Be Very Vigilant with Warning Signs When Buying a House
When you are house hunting, look for any home warning signs that could indicate problems with the property. Such warning signs, as discussed above, could be water damage, maintenance issues, taxes, and insurance. If you see any red flags, get a professional opinion before making an offer on the house.
Make sure to get a professional home inspection before you buy a house. This will help you identify any potential problems before you commit to the purchase.
It’s better to be safe than sorry, and you don’t want to end up with a money pit that will drain your savings.