One of the best things about buying a house today is the ease of finding the right property for your location and budgetary needs. Unfortunately, when buying, or listing your home on the MLS, there are a number of red flags to be aware of that can really hinder your real estate experience. One of the biggest disadvantages of buying a house for the first time is that you aren’t armed with the knowledge of what to look for throughout the buying process.
Often times, if something feels too good to be true, it is, but here are some concrete red flags you can look for to make sure you purchase the right home.
No mention of the neighborhood.
While you should definitely be concerned about what is inside your new property, what’s on the outside can be just as, if not more, important. If you find a property that has no mention of schools, attractions, or accessibility to surrounding areas, be wary of signing up to live in a vacant, dangerous, or poorly maintained neighborhood.
Sudden price drop.
It can be common to see marginal price drops as a property spends more time on the market, especially if a home was priced too high, to begin with. One real estate agent in a recent Forbes article reminds us, however, that every now and again you’ll see a drop of $20,000 – $30,000, and that is an instant red flag. Do some digging and find out why the price dropped so much, you may be surprised at the answer you find.
These days, everyone has a nearly professional camera in their pocket, so there’s really no excuse for a poorly lit, or just plain bad photo, to exist on a listing. If you find a huge deal on an amazing sounding property, but it doesn’t feature many, or even any, pictures, it is highly suggested that you keep scrolling.
When taking a tour of a home, no matter how nice it is, be mindful that your neighbors can be a huge selling point down the road. Take a walk around your future stomping grounds. If you see a few houses that look disheveled or hear a dog that won’t stop barking, it is definitely something to keep in mind.
Look in the attic.
Proper ventilation is a huge deal, so when you do your tour of the home, make sure you check out every room, including the attic. If your house can’t properly ventilate, it will definitely cause problems down the line such as mold and rot, and that will be a huge headache when it’s time to sell, too.
Visiting home on a rainy day is a great way to see how it holds up against the elements. Is the neighborhood properly equipped to deal with rain? How about the basement or garage? If these areas can’t drain water well, you’ll certainly pay for it later.
Even when buying a new home, you never know what may have happened during construction. Fresh paint on one wall, or a specific room, maybe hiding some mildew or water damage. Make sure you take note of any strange smells and hire a home inspector to give a thorough and experienced look over.
If you notice more than one or two for sale signs out on people’s yards, you should be asking yourself why everyone is suddenly moving out of the neighborhood. Dive in and see what you can find about the surrounding area. If you find poor school ratings, high crime rankings, or low walkability scores, definitely take that into consideration.
If you’re buying a home so you can have a sanctuary to express yourself in, make sure you pay attention to restrictive homeowners associations. While some people may enjoy the uniformity and well-groomed look of suburbia, others may find it taxing and controlling. Keep an eye out for identical lawns, landscaping, and building styles if you’re searching for a more unique or self-expressive feel.
There’s a lot more that goes into researching a home than deciding on a price and clicking on a button. The home buying process is one of the largest financial decisions you will make, so it’s important to do as much due diligence as possible before pulling the trigger. Hopefully, these red flags will give you a better idea of what you should be looking for when it comes time to do your home tour.
If you see anything out of the ordinary or something that irks you the wrong way, don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as possible and do some deep digging to validate the answers you get. Stay vigilant, and you’ll find your dream home in every sense of the word!