If you’re a first-time home buyer, or simply haven’t been in the market for awhile, it can be easy to make a misstep in the buying process. Fresh paint and a favorable floor plan can blind you to bigger items that could bring buyer’s regret down the road.
No matter how hot the market is or how rushed you feel, be sure you like the neighborhood and aren’t getting in over your head with a fixer upper.
Here are five red flags that may mean you need to pass on making an offer:
1. Odor coverup
Whether it’s freshly baked cookies, several pumpkin spice candles or an army of air fresheners, there may be something the sellers are trying to cover up. While every sheet of cookies does not mean there’s a pet odor problem, when you notice too many aromas going on, it’s likely an attempt to mask something. Look closely at carpet, ceilings and floors for pet accidents, mold or mildew.
2. Signs of deferred maintenance
Look for signs that the homeowner has not kept up on simple, routine maintenance. Burned-out lightbulbs, overgrown landscaping, dripping faucets or marred paint are all signs of a deeper problem. If a homeowner isn’t keeping up on the small things, he or she is probably not taking care of the big ticket items.
3. Foundation issues
A hairline crack in the foundation is usually no cause for alarm. Most houses have them as they settle into place over time. But large, gaping cracks signal a likely issue with the home’s foundation. Other signs of foundation problems are windows or doors that stick, uneven floors and visible interior tracks around window frames.
4. Signs of Mold
Open the bathroom and sink cabinets. Then, take a look at the water pipes and drains, as well as the caulking around faucets and the tub. Even small black or gray spots can spell serious mold issues lurking. Another telltale sign? Patches on the ceiling.
5. Water damage
Telltale signs include musty odors and water lines on ceilings and walls. These could be signs of a previously burst pipe that may have caused flooding. Another area to check is exposed piping in areas like laundry rooms. Check for rust, water stains and leaks.
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