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Cracking Foundation and Walls

Posted on Monday, February 14, 2022 in Mortgage Lending

Top 5 Home-Buying Red Flags

In a highly competitive housing market, home buyers are under a lot of pressure to make a quick decision to prevent their dream home from slipping away to another buyer. However, before you rush into anything you might regret, beware of the following top five red flags suggesting trouble may be ahead.

What really matters — condition

Buying a home may be the single biggest investment most people will ever make. And selecting the perfect home should have a lot more to do with the condition of the property, rather than whether all your furniture will fit or if the kitchen is large enough for family gatherings. The house needs to be in good shape.

Read the disclosures

Instead of letting the stunning fireplace or wood floors divert your attention, start by asking to read the standard listing disclosures. By law, the seller is required to list all known defects of the house.

Buyer beware

Keep your eyes wide open for any of the following red flags as you tour the home. Some sellers may not be aware of all of the defects, and other less scrupulous sellers will intentionally omit problems, hoping you won’t see them.

If you spot these red flags, make sure you think twice before making an offer, hire an inspector and then put the repairs into your home-buying cost calculation and negotiations.

  • Red Flag #1. Doors that don’t close or are trimmed off at the top or bottom. This suggests that the framing members of the home have shifted, and the door frame is now out of square.
  • Red Flag #2. Foundation cracks. Walk around the entire exterior of the home and in the basement to identify any cracks in the foundation or walls. Some minor cracks may not be serious, but any crack more than ½ inch wide or cracks that have been recently patched could be an indicator of an unstable foundation.
  • Red Flag #3. Rotting wood. This could be an indicator of a water problem or insect infestation. Termites munching on/in the foundation, windowsills or walls of a home should send a clear message this is not the house for you. The telltale sign of an active infestation is small piles of fine brown wood droppings on the floor near a wall or window.  On the exterior of the home, inspect the home’s sill plate (treated wood that sits on top of the foundation and serves as the structural base for the floor joist frame), window frames, wood siding, and all corners of the home (near the gutter downspouts) for signs of insects or wood decay.
  • Red Flag #4. Water stains or mold. Brownish or yellowish water stains in the ceilings or walls, cracking paint or plaster, a saggy ceiling, or mold stains, may be evidence of a leaky roof, plumbing problem, or other type of water leak.
  • Red Flag #5. An outdated HVAC system. The average furnace lasts 15 years and air conditioner approximately 10 years. As heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) units approach the end of their useful life they become less efficient and more susceptible to failure, leaving you with the cost of replacing them. Confirm the age of each part of the HVAC system. Typically, the unit will have a sticker, emblem or model number on it that identifies its age.

Be a smart home buyer

These are just a few of the red flags that deserve your attention. Before you rush to make an offer, take the time to hire a professional inspector so you know exactly what you will be getting before you buy. Work closely with your real estate agent and lender to make sure there are no problems with either the structure or abstract.   

  1. home buying
  2. mortgage loan
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