If you’re on the hunt for a home for you and your family, cramming in open house after open house into your schedule, you obviously can’t afford to get a professional inspection of every home you tour. 

The solution: to keep an eye out for these 11 red flags spotted in the home that could be a sign that more problems are lurking beneath the sellers are hiding or not “disclosing.” That way, through your own personal pre-inspection, you can narrow down your search before you hire the real pro.

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What’s That Smell?

Sniff the inside and outside of the home for any questionable smells. For instance, if you smell mold, check under sinks, around windows, or into crawl spaces for leaks. Breathing in mold spores can cause respiratory problems, headaches, and more symptoms – and could require replacing wood, drywall, or carpets.

Also, be wary of the potent smell of potpourri or air freshener that smacks you in the face when you step foot inside the house. Is the homeowner trying to cover up the smell of something else, like pet urine? If you’re really interested in the house, ask for a second showing, sans any home fragrance added by the seller.

For Sale-Apalooza

Another red flag could be the sight of multiple For Sale signs in the same neighborhood of the home you like. This could be a sign of a real problem with the location, so you need to get the dirt from the neighbors: Ask them about the crime rate or possible problems with the area that led them to list. Are nearby businesses boarded up? Is major development or intrusive infrastructure invading the neighborhood? These are important questions to have answered before you are stuck with a bad investment.

Bugged Out!

Small piles of tiny brown droppings on a floor near a wall could lead to a termite infestation behind the wall. Other signs are a hollow sound when you knock on a wood surface or mud tubes growing on a foundation. Be on the lookout for dead cockroaches or mice, too.

Faults with the Foundation & Yard

Take a good look at the foundation for any damage. If there are any bulges or cracks larger than one-third inch, it could indicate serious structural or foundation issues. Also, check for possible cracks that have been recently patched. 

Also related to the home’s foundation is the yard grading to prevent ponding that could weaken the foundation wall. A yard should have a minimum 2 percent grade away from the house. Drive by the house after it rains to see if there are puddles of standing water, which could mean there is a drainage problem. Puddles near the foundation are the most concerning.

Bleh Curb Appeal

There’s a reason that a home’s curb appeal sets the standard for a home. If the exterior maintenance is iffy, what else did the homeowners neglect inside? Curb appeal red flags to take note of include dirty siding, dead plants on the front porch, an overgrown front lawn, filled gutters, and missing or curling shingles on the roof (replacing a roof can cost you up to $20,000).

Check the Switches

Even if you’re not an electrician, you can still check for any faulty or old wiring by flicking light switches on and off, making sure all outlets function properly, and paying attention to flickering lights.

Fresh Spot Painting

There’s nothing better than touring a home with a fresh coat of paint on the walls, but beware of fresh spot painting that seems out of place, like only one wall in a room that’s painted. This could indicate that the seller is trying to cover up a defect on the wall, such as a water stain or leak.

Do Not Enter

If there are any locked doors keeping rooms or storage areas in the house off-limits during your tour, this could be a red flag of what is being hidden. If you like the house, request to see these blocked-off areas on a follow-up tour.

Floors, Doors, Walls, and Windows

Ask if the homeowner took on a DIY project that opened up the floor plan, but may have taken out a load-bearing wall without adjusting the framing, which is not safe for your family. (Doors that won’t close could be a signal of this.) Make sure all windows can open and that there is no water settled in between double-paned windows. And if the slope of the floors is noticeable, it could be a sign of a foundation problem. If you think this is the one, it may be worth hiring a structural engineer to take a closer look at these issues.

Saggy Ceiling

If the ceiling sags, it’s a red flag. This is even for a slight sag, which could still be the result of roof leaks or structural shifts causing the ceiling drywall to work loose from the ceiling joists and resulting in an expensive fix.

Long Listing & Low Price

Depending on the community, the average time from listing to close is about 68 days. Question it if the home has been sitting on the market longer. What are the home sellers hiding and what are potential buyers finding and being turned off by in the home?

And, if a house is priced far below market value, it could be too good to be true. Find out more about why it’s at that price point before you rush to make an offer. 

Work with Realtor Paige Bird to get a professional inspection before you buy a home. As a real estate agent in Myrtle Beach since 2004, she has been named the #1 RE/MAX Agent in South Carolina for 8 consecutive years. In 2022, she closed on 75 properties for a total $26,472,347 in sales volume and an average list-to-sales price of 99.10%. 

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contact Paige Bird today at (843) 865-6216

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