Shopping for a home to buy can be daunting. It's not uncommon to experience a sense of whiplash as buyers rush to outbid each other. After all, you don't want to lose out on your dream home. Buying a house is a big deal, and you should never rush a decision this big. It could mean major issues and costly repairs down the line.
There's a lot to take in when viewing a home. That's why it's important to know what to look out for to ensure that it's a worthy investment. Here are some red flags to watch for when you’re touring a home.
1. The House Has Been on the Market for a Bit Too Long
Just because a house has been on the market for months does not always mean that there's something wrong with the house. For one, the seller could be a bit too sentimental and wants to take their time looking for the right buyer. However, it could also indicate an underlying problem with the house—perhaps an unpleasant history or a problem with the deed. This may be the case if the house is priced way below market value. If this is the case, be alert for structural issues or necessary repairs that may be expensive to fix.
2. Too Many “For Sale” Signs in the Neighborhood
Why does everyone want to leave? It's important to walk or drive through a neighborhood before a house tour. Doing so will give you a general feel of the neighborhood and help you ask the right questions. If you find that almost everyone in the neighborhood is selling, that's a major red flag and one you should not overlook no matter how nice the house you are viewing is. Dig deeper and do some research to rule out things like rising crime rates or future infrastructural problems that could negatively impact property values.
3. Strange Odors
Does the home have a strange odor or smell too good? It's no secret that sellers want to appeal to buyers. One way to do this is to fill the air with an enticing scent of freshly baked cookies. However, too many scents throughout the house could be a way of covering up something a bit less pleasant. Don't ignore strange odors. They could point to water or mildew damage, smoke damage, or even an overflowing septic tank outside.
4. Some Rooms Are Off Limits
Now, this isn't always a red flag, especially if the seller is hosting an open house. The seller may just be using the room to store some personal items. However, keeping a room off-limits during a private tour could be cause for concern. A house tour is an opportunity to go through every nook and cranny. You want to take in every aspect of the house, especially if you’re interested in buying. Open up cabinets to check for water damage, look for exposed piping in basements, and water stains in ceilings. If any areas of the house are off-limits, check with your realtor. The buyer may have a good reason, or it may be cause of suspicion.
There's only so much you can take note of during a house tour. If you plan to move forward and make an offer, hire an inspector to make sure there aren't any major problems with the house. While you'll undoubtedly have to make a few repairs here and there, fixing structural issues can be incredibly costly. And on that note, always bring a professional along while viewing a house. A good, forthcoming real estate agent is an asset you'll want by your side when house hunting.