Home Buying 101: Eight Red Flags to Watch Out For When Buying A House
Franklin D. Roosevelt was then quoted to say, “Real estate cannot be lost or stolen, nor can it be carried away. Purchased with common sense, paid for in full, and managed with reasonable care, it is about the safest investment in the world.”
Indeed, buying a home is one of the most significant investments you will ever make in your life. For many, owning one is considered a milestone—a goal you plan and work towards in the future. However, like any other investment, buying a home comes with its own set of risks. No matter how exciting buying a home may be, you should never get caught up in the process and fall in love with every property you see. That said, it is your responsibility to be a keen and conscious home buyer to ensure that you get your money’s worth. While you may think you have found the property of your dreams, you need to be aware of any hidden red flags that may be present in the prospective property you are thinking of buying.
Some of the things that can be a cause for concern are the property's location or the internal structure of the home. If you spot a red flag, be sure to consider what the potential consequences will be if you wish to push through with the sale. Unfortunately, first-time homebuyers may find it difficult to spot a property’s red flags. Luckily, this article is here to guide you to ensure that you can navigate the waters of buying real estate property thoroughly. So, whether you are choosing a house and lot for your first home or a townhouse in Quezon City, below is a list of red flags you need to avoid when it comes to purchasing a home:
1.) A price that is a little too good to be true
So, you have found the perfect property, and just as luck would have it, the property is priced reasonably—too reasonably, in fact, that it comes off cheaper than the average asking price. While it may seem like the stars have aligned for you to get this property, take a step back and think twice. An asking price that is a little too good to be true is a glaring red flag as this is an obvious indication that the sellers are extra motivated to sell this property. That should be enough to make you wonder why. While there are some sellers who need to sell quickly for financial, personal, or job relocation reasons, you cannot discount the possibility that the home may not be in good condition. If you push through with the sale, you may end up having to do exorbitant repairs that can quickly add up. That said, always be sure to ask your realtor for the low asking price.
2.) The listing does not include many photos
Before visiting a potential real estate property, most homebuyers would look at a listing’s photos. If the listing does not have many pictures or includes only a few ones, that should be a red flag. It may be an indication that the seller wishes to hide defects in the home. If the potential listing you are looking at does not include high-quality photos, you should question why. Should this be the case, ask your realtor to find older photos of the home from previous listings before visiting and taking a tour of the house. If there are rooms left out of the listing, ask the sellers why that is the case.
3.) The home was renovated and/or added onto at different stages
Check if the property you are touring is renovated in different stages. To illustrate, it may be the home was renovated or added on to some time in the late nineties and another in the 2000s. While this is not always a red flag, you need to ensure that the renovations and changes made to the home are cohesive and consistent. After all, permit requirements and regulations change over time. If different owners have made alterations to the house, there is a chance that there is no cohesion to the overall product. More importantly, there is a likelihood that some of the work was not officially permitted at all.
4.) Random fresh paint
Fresh paint that looks out of place is a clear indicator of a red flag. As it is, one of the best ways to prepare a home on a budget for sale is to paint it. Painting a room is an inexpensive and practical way to make a room seem fresh and clean. However, some home sellers who are hoping to make a quick sale will randomly paint walls or a small area to cover up prior damage. When you are looking at properties, be sure to ask why there are rooms with only one wall or a small portion of the ceiling painted on. It may be possible that they are trying to cover up a problem, which should be a cause for concern.
5.) Amateur workmanship and repairs
Typically, homeowners contract the services of a third party to do enhancement or repair work in their homes. If they cannot afford it, they do it themselves. If they are skilled and capable, the results are excellent, but this is not always the case. If you spot any signs of amateur repair work and enhancements, be sure to ask why. If you are buying a flipped property, this is an especially important consideration to make. Flipped properties are usually completed by “flippers” who do not possess the qualifications to complete projects correctly. That said, keeping an eye out for amateur workmanship is paramount.
Common amateur workmanship jobs to be on the lookout for when viewing properties are carpentry, electrical work, and plumbing. Keep an eye out for leaky faucets, toilets, missing trim work, and other potential DIY projects. Be sure to be thorough, as these are not discovered until a home inspection is completed on the home.
6.) Weird odors
Homeowners have become immune to foul and weird odors because they are around them every day. However, foul and strange odors are a surefire way to kill a potential home sale. On your visit, be sure to take in everything that you see and everything that you can smell. Keep in mind that both pleasant and foul odors can be red flags. Foul odors should scare away potential buyers, but pleasant odors are a red flag because they may indicate that a seller is trying to mask a smell. If a home has an air freshener plugged in every outlet or a candle lit in every room, you should be wondering why. While your seller may seem to be making a good impression, you also need to be aware that this could be an underlying problem.
7.) Poor overall neighborhood condition
A paramount consideration in home buying is the location. As a homebuyer, you need to know that you are not only purchasing the specific lot where the property sits on but the neighborhood it is located in as well. A red flag you need to be on the lookout for when purchasing a home is a neighborhood that has an overall poor condition. Things you should keep an eye out for are boarded-up properties and a high number of vacant properties in the neighborhood. Indeed, choosing the best neighborhood to buy a home in may not always be easy, but it is crucial. Having your home in a neighborhood that has crime problems can be a costly mistake in the future. This is because it will significantly impact the resale value of the home. Buying a home in a bad neighborhood can create problems for you in the future.
8.) Electrical issues
Inadequate or electrical issues are a red flag. While many older homes will have older electrical panels with fuses that may cause significant problems. Understandably, most home buyers are not professional electricians, which means that electrical issues may not be so easy to detect. However, simply switching the lights on and checking for flickering lights and checking outlets whether they are well and working are two good ways to tell if the property has any electrical issues. That said, your home inspector will also inspect the electrical panel and test the outlets to ensure the electrical systems are not a cause for safety concerns.
It is no question that buying a home is a huge event in anyone’s life—regardless of your experience in home buying. Whether this is your first property or if you are a seasoned investor, looking out for the red flags above is imperative. Keep in mind that some red flags may not be found simply during a home viewing. That said, do a thorough home inspection to spot any red flags that you may have missed.