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House Buying Red Flags
By Mike Holmes
Wednesday, April 10th, 2019 @ 12:42am
Buying a home is one of the biggest investments most people will ever make, and you should know what kind of investment you’re making.
House hunting is not easy, and it is a good idea to take your time with this purchase decision. I still hear the horror stories where homebuyers don’t get a home inspection before buying a house. Sometimes the real estate agents recommend not getting a home inspection to speed up the process.
I’ve seen it happen, over and over again, where couples think they bought the house of their dreams only to discover that it’s a complete nightmare later on.
Too many people have gone bankrupt and too many marriages have fallen apart because of one bad decision: Buying a house that needs a fortune to Make It Right.
Here are some house buying red flags to consider:
Red Flags When Buying a House
Foundation or Structural Problems
Hairline cracks are not an indication of a major issue, however if the cracks are large, you should have an expert come out to check it.
- Missing downspouts or downspouts that direct water to the roof or foundation; could lead to leaks
- Cracked brick, including around windows; could mean moisture intrusion and rot
- Vertical foundation cracks; more than one could mean structural problems, like a cracked footing
Knock on a wood surface. If you hear a hollow sound, it could indicate the presence of termites.
- Mouse droppings & insect wings (could mean termites)
- Bubbling paint on exterior walls is also a sign of termites
“Lipstick and Mascara” Work
- Is there a random patch of fresh paint? It could be covering up previous damage
- Is there an area covered with wallpaper that just doesn’t seem right? I have heard of homeowners getting creative covering drywall holes with wallpaper and wall décor
- Patch jobs on the walls and ceiling; could mean a leak
If you are looking at a house that’s been renovated, you can go to the city and find the permits on it. If there are no permits that means they didn’t hire a pro or they did the work themselves.
Either way, if they didn’t know what they were doing you’re stuck with the potential risk and the repair bill.
Water is your home’s #1 enemy. Look around the house. Do you see any water stains or water damage on the ceilings or walls?
Until you have investigated the source of the stains, do not make a home purchase decision.
Trust Your Nose
Here are some smells to investigate:
- A musty smell; could mean there’s mold
- Mushroom smell; could mean dry rot
- Urine smell; could indicate the presence of raccoons
- Burning smell indicates issues with your electrical system
If there are strong air fresheners being used during the open house, or windows open in the middle of the winter, chances are the homeowners are trying to cover up a smell.
Look up. Do you see any shingles curling or missing? A new roof is not cheap, so if you need to replace the roof, make sure you negotiate the price of the house accordingly.
- Bare patches on an otherwise snow-covered roof? Could be an indication of missing insulation in the attic and/or exterior walls; leads to higher energy bills and potentially mold
- Blocked soffit venting; leads to poor air circulation and possibly mold
Poor Drainage and Grading
- Poor grading; could lead to leaks in the basement
- Trees next to the foundation; could get into plumbing and interfere with proper water drainage around the home
- A porch, patio, driveway or grading that slopes toward the home all but guarantees water in the basement.
Mold overgrowth – especially when reproductive spores are inhaled—triggers respiratory ailments such as hay fever, nasal allergies and asthma, as well as rashes and eczema when it touches the skin.
And if ingested, significant concentrations of toxic bacteria can cause abdominal cramping, diarrhea and fever.
Electrical Work Issues
Now most homeowners can’t pick up on electrical issues, but you CAN look for these signs:
- Lights that flicker; could mean something’s wrong with the electrical. The electrical will need to be thoroughly inspected.
- A burning smell coming from appliances or light fixtures when on.
- Discoloured wall outlets.
- Outlets that spark.
- Outlets and light switches that are hot to the touch.
What’s The Rush?
I’d rather not buy a house than buy the wrong one. We all know it’s very easy to make a house look good on the surface, and you can hide a world of trouble behind the walls.
Sometimes people get a home inspection and still end up buying a lemon. Why? Because they didn’t hire the right professional. Just because they call themselves a home inspector doesn’t mean they’re any good.
Hiring Your Home Inspector
Homeowners and homebuyers need to ask the right questions, especially when hiring a home inspector. For example, how long have you been inspecting homes for? What were you doing before home inspections? (You want someone with a background in home construction.)
Are you insured? Are you certified? By who and what does that mean?
I recommend being present for your home inspection and touring the house with your inspector.
WANT MORE TIPS?
So to save your own butt I always tell homeowners to educate themselves. Learn what separates the pros from the players.
Buying a house shouldn’t be like playing Russian roulette. You should know that you are making a smart investment. Buyer beware!