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6 Red Flags During a Walk-Through

Heading out to an open house this weekend? Before you get too attached, keep an eye out for these six red flags:

1. Branches hanging over the roof

We love a good neighborhood with beautiful, mature trees. Unfortunately, a house with overhanging branches – especially if it’s over the home – pose a threat to the entire property.  First of all, as branches scrape against roof shingles on windy days, they can strip off layers of asphalt. Leaves are more likely to fall directly onto your roof or in the gutter, which can cause mold, leaks or deterioration. And not to mention that a simple storm could cause colossal damage!

2. Quick fixes or updates

Visiting a house that was recently flipped? If the current homeowner made only quick or cosmetic fixes but didn’t touch the more major parts of the house, speak up. (We call it “putting lipstick on a pig.”) Ask about the structure, drainage, plumbing, electrical and more to understand why only cosmetic updates were made.

3. Signs of poor drainage

Standing water, water stains, clogged or overflowing gutters, yard erosion and warped wood are all signs of poor drainage, which can be a major headache for homeowners. Do a thorough walk-through of exterior spaces – including the yard – to assess downspouts, gutters, grade and more before making a decision you might come to regret.

4. Cracks in the foundation or drywall

The last thing you want to have to deal with as a new homeowner is structural damage or weakness. While some cracks – like hairline cracks in mortar – are typically cosmetic issues, stair-step cracks in masonry joints and horizontal cracks are much bigger issues and could be indicators that the house needs a brand new foundation. Keep an eye out indoors, too – issues like jamming doors, cracks over doorways or in tile, and sticky windows could also be signs the foundation needs help.

5. Newly painted basement walls

A freshly painted basement isn’t necessarily a bad thing – unless the current owners have something to hide. From mold to water stains, a coat or two of paint can be a quick fix for sellers that leave buyers in the pits.  Anytime you see new updates – especially cosmetic ones, and especially in areas not typically painted – do some investigative work prior to putting in an offer.

6. Galvanized pipes

Commonly installed in homes built before 1960, galvanized pipes are steel pipes that have been dipped in a protective zinc coating to prevent corrosion and rust. Though the trend started as a safer alternative to lead, it’s now known that decades of exposure to water will cause galvanized pipes to corrode and rust on the inside – meaning big bucks for you to replace. If you have access to water pipes but can’t tell what material they’re made of visually, try a strong magnet – if it sticks, it’s likely galvanized. If not, it’s probably copper or plastic.


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