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Red Flags Home Buyers Need to Watch Out For

Posted by Justin Havre on Tuesday, November 6th, 2018 at 6:40am.

Red Flags Home Buyers Should Beware OfBuying a new home is a huge investment of time and money, and no home buyer wants to be taken advantage of. It’s important for buyers to be aware of red flags that they might encounter when buying a new home in order to protect themselves and their assets.

Many people get caught up in features like number of bedrooms, the beauty of the garden, the newness of the kitchen and the condition of the appliances. Often North Calgary new home buyers fail to notice red flags because they can be subtle and easy to dismiss.

Here are some of the different home buying red flags that buyers may encounter and why they can be harmful.

For informational purposes only. Always consult with a licensed real estate professional before proceeding with any real estate transaction.

The Price Is Too Good To Be True

Every home buyer wants to know they’re getting a good deal on a home, and price is one of the most important factors of buying a Northeast Calgary home. However, buyers should always be wary when they see a price that is much lower than expected or seems too good to pass up. If a seller lowers the price on their home drastically, it’s usually to try to garner more interest due to a lack of offers. However, in some cases, sellers can use a reduced price in order to hide problems with the home. If a buyer finds a home they like with a price that they can’t pass up, they should be extremely thorough with getting it inspected before committing to purchasing it in order to reduce risk of a bad investment.

Poor Maintenance

A homeowner who neglects small things that break around the house may be neglecting bigger problems as well. This is called deferred maintenance. Home buyers can get a sense of how a homeowner handles maintenance by noting small things that have broken around the house. Here are some examples of things to look for:

  • Broken door knobs.
  • Cracked windows.
  • Drippy faucets.
  • Small holes in the wall.
  • Tears in the window screens.
  • Stains on the carpet.

None of these problems are themselves very hard to fix, but home buyers who notice these problems should also ask themselves, what else isn't the homeowner fixing?

There Are No Photos on Listings

Online listings are extremely useful for buyers to scope out the market before actually going out and looking in person. On online listings, photos are essential for buyers to get a feel for the home that they’re looking at, so it’s important for all listings to have high quality photos of both the home’s interior and exterior. If a listing doesn’t have any photos included, it can possibly mean that the homeowner is trying to hide something about how the home looks. Of course, it can also mean that the seller forgot to upload photos or the site isn’t functioning correctly, but buyers should still be cautious nonetheless. 

Strange Smells

Strange smells can have many sources. Homes that have been closed up for a long time will naturally start to smell stale. However, some smells are an indication of a serious problem.

  • Cigarette smoke. Cigarette smoke can be strong and difficult to get rid of; home buyers must be prepared for a long battle to eliminate the odor.
  • Musty smell. A musty smell can be indicative of mold in the house, which can have serious health effects.
  • Garbage or sewage. A garbage or sewage smell could be an indication of rot somewhere on or near the property, or could be an indication of a septic tank problem (if the smell is outside).

Home buyers who smell things they can't explain should find out the definite source of the problem before making an offer.

The Home Is Being Sold As-Is Without Inspection

Selling a home as-is means that it’s being sold without any work done, often fully furnished. This isn’t unheard of to do, especially if the seller needs to sell the home as quickly as possible due to work or another obligation. However, when a seller doesn’t allow the buyer to have a home inspection, as is custom after accepting an offer, it can be extremely suspicious. If something is wrong with a home, it will be discovered during the inspection, so when a homeowner doesn’t allow the buyer to do inspections, it’s likely because they’re trying to hide flaws in the home. If these sorts of cases, it’s almost always best to pass and move onto another home.

Locked Doors

A locked door or room that a buyer cannot enter could be something easily explained, or it could be an indication that a homeowner is hiding something from the buyer. It's important to see all the parts of the home before making an offer. If a door is locked or a part of the house has been closed off, the home buyer would be wise to get an explanation from the homeowner and make an offer only after touring the house again to see the closed-off area.

There Are Signs of Insects

One thing buyers may not think of when looking for red flags is signs of insects. Pests can be difficult to get rid of, and sellers may try to sell a home without calling an exterminator to let the new owners deal with it. When looking through a home, buyers should keep an eye out for signs of insects such as:

  • Fecal matter
  • Egg shells
  • Noises
  • Damaged furniture
  • Bad smells
  • Shed skins
  • Visible insects

If the buyer notices any of these things, it can be a sign of a larger, unseen infestation. No buyer wants to unwittingly buy an infested home, so it’s important to be looking for these signs early.

Nearby Vacancies

A sudden exodus from the neighbourhood could be an indication that there might be something wrong with the area. If several people on the street are all selling their homes (or if there are several vacant houses), home buyers should find out why, and take this into consideration when trying to decide whether or not to buy. Possibilities could be a major road being built nearby, a high rise being built a block over or increased traffic, noise or pollution.

Work With A Real Estate Professional

Working with a real estate professional comes in very handy when it's time to negotiate repairs or a price reduction. If you're a home buyer who will soon be looking at houses in your local real estate market, talk to a reputable real estate professional to get started. Your real estate professional can help you find a house that will work for your needs.

Keeping an eye out for these sorts of red flags can help prevent buyers from purchasing a home that isn’t worth their money. For more advice on homes, be sure to consult a professional real estate agent who can help identify more red flags.

For informational purposes only. Always consult with a licensed real estate professional before proceeding with any real estate transaction.

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