Buying a home? Beware of Red Flags

When considering a home, you must leave no stones unturned. But, how exactly are you supposed to know if it’s an underlying problem with the home or if it’s just a cosmetic problem? The following are some of the major red flags in home buying.

Let’s start with the outside. Many people do not give a second thought to the outside and just head straight indoors. This is a big no-no! Take off those high heels and start investigating. Be on the look out for soil problems, pest problems, erosion, structural instability, drainage malfunctions, uneven streets and driveways, cracked surfaces, cracked retaining walls, rotted fences and decks, gaps in windows and doors, unleveled stairs, and the slope of the land verses the house. Don’t simply step over the cracks in the concrete, those cracks could indicate huge foundation troubles or could even mean that the area is uniformly moving. Some types of soil are more prone to cause increased runoff and flooding during storms. As we mentioned earlier, consider the slope of the land verses the house, especially if the land slopes towards the house. In a storm, will the runoff be running towards your house? If there is an area of the yard in which shrubs and trees are growing at a 45-degree angle, you may want to have someone take a look. Another red flag is high tension wires, these are simply an eye sore and can cause hassle when reselling. Busy streets are a concern because many times a busy street means a noisy street. Now let’s make sure we have the red flags of the neighborhood under control. Have you researched the values of other houses? Are they increasing or decreasing? Stay away from declining areas (unless of course, they are remodeling, and you catch them in the construction phase). Check into the safety of the neighborhood. Have there been drug problems, break-ins, and is it safe for children? Next, take a good look around the interior of the home. Make sure to be on the look out for visible signs of water damage. Check ceilings, floorboards, carpet and floor stains, smells of mildew, etc. Also, be sure to ask the owners of any problems with the hot water heater. Be on the lookout for floor plans that seem to have many level changes, low ceilings, narrow hall ways, awkward maneuverability, bad lighting (due to windows and/or electric sources). Items such as hand-painted walls, unusual appliances, eccentric details in the building of the house or unusual greenery are not red flags. Many times these are items that you must simply replace; they do not affect the value of the home. Last, but definitely not least are insurance claims. If there were previous flooding or fire problems, you have every right to know all the details. This could affect if you are able to get insurance on the home.

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