Starting the homebuying process means navigating many stumbling blocks; it means saving every cent, finding the right real estate agent, and scouring homes online in your free time. You might not mind a property within your budget needing a little TLC to make it your own, or maybe you want something completely move in ready. Fortunately for you, your real estate agent has helped you narrow down your choices and can help guide you toward what’s best for you.
During the house hunting experience, you may come across a property or two that pique your interest but also give you some cause for concern. Your agent knows the right questions to pose to the seller’s agent, and even before you view the property you can review the seller’s disclosure documents together (when available). Your agent has an expansive knowledge of the industry and is connected to other industry professionals to help you along the way. Unfortunately, there can be a few more hurdles to overcome. Since two heads are usually better than one, before you sign on the dotted line, let’s look at a few common red flags.
Odors– If something doesn’t quite smell right, ask about the source of the odor. In older homes, especially in the country, there may be animals living in the walls. If you walk into a basement and get assaulted by a musty odor, it could be a sign of costly water damage. Alternately, if it smells excessively fragrant, many candles are lit or air fresheners used, the pleasant smell could be an attempt at masking something far worse.
Pests– Like animals in the walls, there can also be insects or rodents in the home. Pests can be a significant issue not only for the damage they cause, but also because they aren’t easily spotted. Look for droppings in or around the kitchen or bathroom floor, as well as signs of nesting like scraps of paper or bits of string or ribbon.
Paint– Seeing new paint in a home is not necessarily a red flag, however, if you notice one painted wall or area amidst others which have not been painted you may want to bring that up with your agent. Sometimes paint is used to cover water marks or other damage for a quick sale, and the buyer is left facing a bigger issue down the line.
Shoddy Repairs– In some cases homeowners may feel they have the experience to do home repairs themselves when they should have called a professional. Bringing along a trusted professional (such as a contractor, plumber or electrician) to a showing can make all the difference. They can point out an amateur fix and give you a good idea of what else might need fixing.
Electrical Issues– Check all plugs and switches. If lights flicker, the switches or outlets are warm to the touch, or the outlets look original to a home older than you, those can end up being costly updates to make.
Now that you have an idea of some things to look for during this process, hopefully you feel a little more at ease. Once you’ve found a home that meets your expectations, your agent will work with you on next steps like submitting an offer and arranging for a home inspection. A thorough home inspection by a qualified professional may confirm your worries or dispel them so be sure to review his or her report before making a decision. The bottom line is that buying a home should be an accomplishment to look forward to with transparency and far less stress. Luckily for you it can be with the right representation.