Heading out to an open house this weekend? Excited about a full day of showings for you and your agent? Before you get too fired up about finding your dream home, 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 they’re over the home – poses a threat to the entire property.
Branches scraping against roof shingles on windy days 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.
Also, as much as we love the cooling effect of big shady trees in the heat of summer, that shade allows moisture to stick around a little bit longer, making it easier for moss and mildew to grow on the roof itself. The home seller may have just cleaned all this off the roof, is that a job you want every year?
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 structural integrity of the property, drainage, plumbing, electrical, and more to understand why only cosmetic updates were made.
Also, make sure your agent fills you in on exactly when the home was last purchased and for how much. You may be able to use this information to bargain for a better price, plus, the seller may be willing to share their inspection report with you (assuming they got one when they bought the house), which could give you an even clearer picture of the home’s condition.
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.
The good news here is that drainage issues are actually relatively fixable, assuming your new house isn’t at the bottom of a hill.
Ask lots of good questions about the history of the property, make sure to review the seller’s disclosure statements, and when if you’re really serious about making an offer, get an estimate from a qualified drainage professional about what it would take to remedy your concerns.
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 only cosmetic, 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.
Remember though, homes without these obvious visual cues can also have issues. Try bringing a marble with you to your next showing and resting it on hard surfaces around the home. If the marble stays put, you’re most likely in good shape. If it rolls, there may be some hidden issues you’ll need to investigate before making an offer.
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. Keep in mind that sellers are legally obligated to disclose any known water or mold issues, so make sure you review that seller’s disclosure statement too.
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.
Got more questions about how to make the most out of your showing or open house time? The Brick & Corbett team is here to help! As your buyer agent, a member of our group will make sure you know all the most important details about any home you’re considering, help you price your offer to be competitive while at the same time getting you the best deal possible, and get you through the closing process quickly and easily. We want to serve you, contact us today to get started on the next chapter of your home ownership journey.