House hunting can be a fun, yet stressful, process. From figuring out the most affordable places to buy a home to deciding on what amenities you want in your dream house, there are many steps in the home-buying process. But perhaps one of the most important steps is touring the open house and having a great realtor. Is a realtor right for you?
As a prospective homebuyer, it’s important to pay close attention when viewing open houses. Certain warning signs should have you questioning a property before you decide to buy. So as you embark on your open house adventures, watch out for these red flags to avoid buying a money pit.
Multiple Homes for Sale in the Same Area
The house you are looking at might be a perfect fit, but what about the neighborhood? Multiple homes for sale on one street could be a sign that residents aren’t happy with the area.
Take a tour of the community, and look for signs of a thriving neighborhood, such as well-kept homes, flourishing businesses, and an abundance of sidewalks and streetlights. If you see any neighbors, ask them how long they’ve lived there and how they like the area. You could learn a lot.
Water damage, mildew and mold might be hard to see, but they aren’t that hard to smell. Some agents try to mask these musky and dank odors with air freshener, potpourri or fresh-baked cookies — but that only goes so far.
Take a whiff of the closets or basement to get a better idea of the house’s condition. If you suspect something is off, schedule a private tour of the house with a separate agent. It’s a lot harder to hide those funky smells when it’s just you and a neutral third party conducting a walk-through of the property.
Rooms That Are ‘Off Limits’
Sellers might block off rooms for a variety of reasons — such as conserving air conditioning or storing a few items they haven’t had time to move yet — so this isn’t an immediate red flag. Just ask the listing agent about any rooms or areas that are blocked off, and request to see them during a private tour of the home. You want to make sure you see every inch of the house before you consider purchasing it.
Some homeowners decide to do quick renovations to make their homes more salable, but the fast work can come at a price or as a result of cutting corners, such as no permits, structural issues or plumbing that was never properly inspected. For example, if a homeowner knocked down a wall to create a more open floor plan, the structural integrity of the rest of the house might be compromised.
If you love the house but question the recent renovations, you can hire a structural engineer to inspect the property. Do your due diligence so nothing comes back to haunt you later.
Peeling paint can be a sign of more than just an old paint job — sometimes, it’s caused by rot or moisture penetration.
A property inspection should identify any rot and reveal any windows or seals that aren’t watertight, including in the roof. But these inspections are costly. A home inspection might cost you between $300 and $500 but can vary depending on the home’s size, age and location, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
If the home inspection reveals the home has rot or water damage, ask the seller to pay for the repairs.