When you are looking for a new home, it is easy to be swept off your feet by good staging, a view, or even a trendy neighborhood. But, it is incredible important to do a thorough inspection of a home when you get to tour it, especially if you are interested in making an offer. Many realtors or sellers are good at hiding details from potential buyers that could be disastrous if they are not addressed, so we created this list of details that should stand out to you as major red flags when touring a home.
1. Go house hunting after it rains – While it may not be great for your mood, house hunting during or right after it rains will be great for detecting any problems with water damage or flooding in any homes you are interested in. Check for things like water pooling in the yard by the house, any water spots in the ceiling or leaks that indicate water damage, and make sure to check the basement for flooding or signs of flooding, like a mildew smell.
2. Examine where any trees are in relation to the house – Trees can be great for aesthetic, improving your landscaping and even giving shade to your home in the warmer months, but it only takes one storm for that tree to become a disaster waiting to happen. If you notice there are large trees around your house, stop to think what would happen should one of them fall. What rooms would they be hitting? Do the trees seem like they are in good health, or are they dying? Tree removal can sometimes be negotiated in your deal, but it is good to know if you will need it before you commit to anything.
3. Search the neighborhood on Airbnb – If you live or are moving to a city that is popular for vacations, make sure you know before committing to a place whether it is close to any short-term rentals. Living next to an Airbnb could mean dealing with noise from parties every weekend,
4. If there is a smell like maple-syrup, there is probably a bug problem – The spray to treat a home for cockroaches or other insect infestations smells like syrup, so if you can smell it when you walk into a house it is likely that there was or still is a bug problem in the house. If they aren’t gone by now, they’re probably very hard to get rid of, so this is one of the biggest red flags of them all.
5. Bring a charger to test outlets – If you are very serious about a home, it is okay to get down to the small details during your tour. You can bring a phone charger with you to test outlets, especially in rooms where it will be crucial that they all work like a bedroom or a kitchen.
6. Visit during commuting hours so you can see what the traffic is like – A bad commute can damage your quality of life in a home, so try to visit a home that you are interested in during rush hour. You will easily be able to see what the commute is like, if traffic gets back in certain areas, or even if public transportation is an option if you go at the time that most people are commuting.
7. If the house is filled with candles or air-fresheners during your tour, beware – A candle or two can help set the ambiance when you are visiting a home, but if there are multiple burning in every room or air fresheners plugged into every outlet, they are probably covering up some kind of permanent odor. If you notice this, look for litter boxes or signs of other pets that could leave long-lasting odors, stains on the carpet, or signs of mold or mildew that could be creating the unwelcome scent.
8. Check out the roof – If there are multiple layers of tiles on the roof, it means that the roofer didn’t replace the roof properly, and instead just piled on new tiles over the damaged ones. This adds a lot of weight to the roof, which can be disastrous in wetter climates, and often roofers will charge extra for additional layers they have to tear down.
9. Inspect the Foundation – Obviously, you are probably not a professional inspector, but there are some foundation issues you can see with the naked eye. If you notice any cracks or patchy coloring where paint has been reapplied, it is likely there is or was a problem with the foundation in those spots.
10. Get a good inspector, and don’t commit to anything until you see their report – Make sure you trust your home inspector, as they can save you from a disastrous financial decision. Also, do your best not to fall head-over-heels for a property or commit to anything long-term until you have seen a property’s inspection report and gone over it with the owner.