7 Red Flags You Can't Afford to Ignore When Buying a Home

Keeping an eye out for these telltale signs could help you avoid buyer's remorse in the long run.

U.S. News & World Report

7 Red Flags You Shouldn't Ignore When Buying a Home

Condition of previous repairs, the home and the neighborhood can be indicators that your next home may be a Pandora's box.(Getty Images)

Buying a home is a huge financial commitment, so it’s important to know what you’re getting into before committing to a house. There are certain things that every homebuyer should be looking for when viewing a potential property.

From leaky faucets and poor drainage to infestations and mold, it’s important to address these warning signs right away, before they lead to bigger and more expensive problems later on. If you can’t afford to get a professional inspection while viewing potential properties, here are a few common red flags to be aware of when house hunting.

Neighborhood Condition

When buying a house, you’re also buying a neighborhood. Assess the area for safety, walkability and easy access to local parks and businesses. Do nearby neighbors have their homes up for sale? Is there a lack of property maintenance and curb appeal? What’s the traffic and construction like in the area? Make sure the community you’re potentially moving into is the right fit for you and your family.

Cracked Foundation

While a cracked foundation or structural issue can seem like an obvious problem that needs to be fixed, many homeowners don’t pay attention to their foundation. When looking at a home, keep an eye out for small and large cracks in the foundation of an unfinished basement, ceilings, door frames and windows. If the floors are slanted or walls have large bulges or cracks, you’ll want to hire a professional to check for serious issues that could lead to expensive repairs.

Bug Infestations and Pest Damage

Pest infestations can easily go unnoticed in a home on a tour or first look. Check for dead bugs in basements and windows, pest droppings or signs of bed bugs, and any evidence of nesting by rats or mice behind appliances or inside cabinets. Because infestations aren't always noticeable to the naked eye without opening up the walls, consider hiring a professional for a termite inspection or licensed pest inspector to rid of any pest issues before moving into a home.

Poor Drainage or Water Damage

During a house tour, keep an eye out for large water puddles near the foundation. This can be a sign the gutters or downspouts aren’t functioning properly. Some water damage is easy to spot in a home, but it can also be hidden between walls or in the attic. Check for leaky faucets and pipes, slow drains and any excess moisture or stains in the basement, walls, and ceilings.

If your potential property is in a flood hazard area or zone, you’ll also want to check if the home has ever been flooded prior to purchasing, You should also take additional homeowners insurance for flooding into consideration when determining the monthly cost of the home.

Warped or Soft Roof

Your roof is easily one of the most important aspects of your home. When looking at a potential home to buy, ask the seller how old the roof is. Look for broken or missing shingles and tiles, and check for warping or sagging, which can be a sign of dry rot.

Mold and Mildew

Mold and mildew are both serious conditions that should immediately be inspected by a professional if detected in a home. Look for the source of the mold near moist areas, like crawl spaces, attics, basements, bathroom vents, and windows. While mold remediation is possible in a home, mold and mildew can result in serious issues for both the health of your family and the health of your home. If your potential home has mold or mildew, you will need to consider if the home is worth the price to remove the problem before you buy.

Amateur Repairs

Is your potential home a fixer upper? Most flipped properties have been flipped once before, so it’s important to check the workmanship and repairs that have been completed in the house. Keep an eye out for any DIY projects or neglected maintenance projects. Poor home maintenance and amateur repairs can end up costing you more money down the road.

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