5 Deal Breakers You Should Know About Before Buying A Home

Before deciding on your next home, consider the sights, smells and sounds around a house or neighborhood that can become a problem later on.

U.S. News & World Report

Deal Breakers to Spot Before Moving

Two cyclists on street with city row homes, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Before placing an offer on a home, visit the neighborhood on multiple occasions to see if you have problems with the amount of traffic on the street or regular sounds that could bother you at odd hours.(Getty Stock Images)

There is so much talk about real estate disrupters and how technology can streamline and improve the industry. Without a doubt, in many areas this is true. How great would it be if it were so easy to purchase a home online by simply cross-referencing all of the available data, such as listing photos, floor plans, descriptions, online comps and maps?

The reality is that a home is not a widget or a roll of paper towel that can merely be ordered on Amazon by pressing a button. There is an emotional connection along with a practical reality that requires human interference. Most importantly, the practical realities are critical considerations that can make or break the enjoyment of your living experience and negatively impact your opinion of the home.

With boots on the ground as opposed to searching in cyberspace, here are some key factors to look out for:

  • Noise from traffic or neighbors.
  • Smells from neighbors or the home itself.
  • Sight and light.
  • Possible flooding.
  • Neighborhood pets.

1. Noise


Traffic. Google maps may make the street you're considering seem like it is on a lovely, winding road, but perhaps it is really a common cut-through street with more traffic than you realized. It may not be on a main cross street, but it is still important to get a sense of the traffic patterns of the neighborhood.

Neighbors. Do the neighbors play loud music in their backyard? Or in an apartment or condo, do you hear noise from the street below or stomping from the people above you?

Often, new windows are able to buffer street noise, but sometimes the issue doesn't have an easy fix. Does a neighbor have a barking dog, which might be a problem? After a few visits, you'll get a sense of whether or not there are any issues that you may or may not wish to contend with.

2. Smells


Kitchen smells. Can you smell what your neighbor is cooking? Once in a while might be alright, but you may not want to smell their cooking on a regular basis. If the smell of different types of food bothers you, try touring the place when neighbors would likely be cooking dinner to see if odors permeate from their kitchen into your potential home.

Musty, moldy smells. This could be a sign of a major problem from past leaks and a serious health concern. Consider these smells a red flag – no one wants an old house to smell like an old house.

3. Sight and Light


Photos. Listing photos are taken by professional photographers whose goal is to sell the property. It's always a good idea to visit the home on both a sunny and cloudy day to get a sense of the light. Most importantly, if you love it on a cloudy day, chances are it will be a home run on a sunny day.

Outside the home. How do you feel about the homes around you? Do the neighbors mow their lawns or care for their exterior as much as you would like? Alternatively, in an apartment building, how do you feel about the hallway or lobby decor? Does this matter to you and if so, will it impact the enjoyment of your home?

4. Flood Area


Local Intel can shed light on what typically happens in the neighborhood, and details on annual flooding can be critical. Even before the catastrophe of Hurricane Harvey in Houston, many neighborhoods, such as Bellaire, had always been known to flood. Research whether the neighborhood has experienced flooding in the past, and how often. If it's a common occurrence, you'll want to factor in the additional cost of flood insurance and the potential loss of valuables if you live there.

5. Pets


You might love pets, but may not love living near an owner with many animals, certain types or breeds. Take a walk around the neighborhood to see if there are a lot of people walking dogs, if there's a dog park nearby or if outdoor cats are a common sight. While many consider pet-friendly neighborhoods a plus, you may prefer a neighborhood where pets are a little less present.

In the end, there are many factors to consider when buying a home: Is it within your budget, does it have enough bedrooms, is it the desired location and do you feel an emotional connection with it? The majority of these qualifications can be determined by an online search. But this is not enough – it's merely the first round. Buying a home is still a process where one needs to do more detective work, which can only be done the old-fashioned way: Spending time at the property and evaluating some of the critical issues which impact your senses and could affect your living experience.

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