Most home buyers only see a home once or twice before they make an offer on a property. Home buyers who know what to look for find it's easier to identify which homes are a good deal and which homes should be avoided. The following red flags are an indication that something could be wrong with a house.
1. Rooms You Can't Get Into
Sellers who close off parts of the house could be trying to hide something, or they could be making an innocent mistake. Either way, home buyers should never make an offer on a property without having seen the entire house. If some rooms are unavailable for home buyers when they make their initial inspection, it's important to gain access to those rooms before making an offer.
2. Cracks in the Foundation
Cracks in the foundation could be an indication of a problem, especially if those cracks are about a quarter of an inch wide and assume a stair-stepping shape. This is a classic sign of a foundation problem, and could mean that the home needs serious repair before it can be safely lived in.
Other signs of foundation problems include: slanting floors, doors and windows that don't shut properly and cracks over the doors and windows. Buyers who see these signs of a problem should not make an offer on a house unless they have a plan to address potential foundation problems.
3. Unpleasant Odors
Unpleasant odors can have many sources. Often homes will develop unpleasant odors when they've been closed up for too long. Sometimes odors occur when the home has a mold or mildew problem.
If the current owner of the house smokes, cigarette smoke can also make the inside of the house smell. Although not all unpleasant odors are an indication of a true problem, home buyers should still investigate the potential source of the smell before making an offer.
4. Water Damage
Water damage can come from leaking pipes, a leaky roof or an ice dam. Visible water damage is a red flag because it could be an indication of a serious maintenance problem in the house. Even if the source of the leak has been repaired, home buyers should be wary of purchasing a home from a seller who does not repair water damage after the source of the damage has been addressed. Buyers should watch for stains on the ceilings or on the walls, bubbling paint and mold spots.
5. Signs of Pest Infestation
Pest problems can be hard to fix and unpleasant to live with, so it's important for buyers to watch out for these common signs of a pest problem.
- Mouse or rat feces on the ground.
- Dead insects on the ground or in the light fixtures.
- Small holes in the walls where the walls and the floors meet.
A pest infestation could be an indication that pests are common in the neighborhood, or it could be an indication that the current owner does not have good housekeeping habits. Either way, buyers should beware.
If you're a Long Beach home buyer who is thinking about making an offer on a home, work with your real estate agent to identify and troubleshoot possible red flags. Your real estate agent can help you decide whether to negotiate repairs in the offer.