Top Red Flags Buyers Should Avoid When Purchasing a Home

When buying a home, a buyer may experience feelings of being overwhelmed with the entire process. Especially first-time buyers, as everything is new, and they have not been through the home buying process previously. This may lead to the buyers not seeing some very important defects or red flags on a property while searching for a home. Buyers should look at certain things on each home when they are searching to determine what items may have huge maintenance and repair bills that buyers want to avoid. The items to consider when house hunting is the age of the home, age of the roof, HVAC system, hot water heater (and determine if it is strapped) and more! The general condition of the home should be in good repair, but determining if there are red flags may take a discerning eye.

If a buyer sees something which is a potential red flag, then they may be scared away and not want to consider that property. In general, buyers need to take steps to purchase a home and ensure they are performing their due diligence. Many red flags are items which should not be taken lightly. Some buyers are scared away pretty easily, and some buyers are “handy” and may see some of the defects as a project to complete after the purchase of the home.

Leaky Plumbing Fixtures

As you walk up to the hose, take note of the hose bib and hose, and see if the ground is saturated, and are there obvious signs of a leaky hose. The ground may be soaked where sprinklers are broken and need to be repaired. As you enter the home, be sure to walk around the entire home and go into bathrooms, open shower doors, and look for staining on bathtubs that may indicate a leaky faucet or showerhead. Take the same note in the bathroom sinks, and it is acceptable to look under a sink to see if there are obvious signs of moisture. The signs may include noticing a damp smell, or signs that there has been a previous water leak.

Take note in the kitchen if the faucet is dripping. If you have the opportunity to look under the kitchen sink as well to Top Red flags to avoiddetermine if there have been water leaks or even if there is current moisture there as well. Moisture under the kitchen sink can be a result of many things including a dishwasher hose, the garbage disposal, or even the kitchen fixture itself may have a leak.

These signs are red flags that a homeowner has ignored home maintenance issues and there may be other leaks in the house that you cannot even see. Buyers are not home inspectors, however, buyers should have a discerning eye when walking around a home to see if there are obvious plumbing problems.

Electrical Issues

Electrical red flags may be more difficult to see when touring a property, and unless you are under contract, you will most likely be not inspecting the electrical panel on the exterior of the home. However, there are some more subtle clues you can use to see if you notice any electrical issues.

Top red flags buyers to avoidAs you tour the home, turn on and off the switches for the lights and be sure that all the light bulbs illuminate. If one or more does not, then it is either a simple repair for a burned out light bulb or the light fixture itself needs to be replaced. Notice if there is any flickering of lights when you turn the switches on and off.

Generally speaking, it is required that the electrical outlets near a water source (such as the kitchen sink) should be on a GFCI or Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. A GFCI shuts off electric power when it senses an imbalance between the outgoing and incoming current. These are obvious to see as they are the electrical outlets with buttons in the middle to reset them. You will most likely not be testing them, but you can see if they are present.

A good home inspection will identify if there are electrical issues which are safety hazards. A home inspector will identify the appropriate location of a GFCI and if it is operable.

Lack of Hot Water Heater Maintenance

It is a good idea to find the location of the hot water heater and note what type whether it be gas or electric. There are some condo complexes that do not have gas and utilize electric hot water heaters. Gas hot water heaters do need proper ventilation.  Gas hot water heaters are installed on a pedestal with a drain pan. They are installed on a pedestal because gas hot water heaters have an ignition source. In California, Hot water heaters need to be strapped due to seismic activity.

Open the door to the hot water heater and note if there is a gas smell, as there could be a gas leak, which would also need to be addressed as a safety issue.

Termites and other Pests

There different types of termites. Termites exist in California and they are wood destroying organisms. Without intervention, they can cause significant damage to a home. There are flying termites who do swarm. The dry wood termites leave behind frass which looks like sawdust. Subterranean termites prefer to live underground in soil, particularly in your garden and under your house if there is a crawl space.

You may see signs of termite infestation in places on the home where there is exposed wood. The eves and fascia board may show signs of deterioration. Other places you might notice is if the property has a wood fence and it is older, you may see signs of termites there as well.

As part of the negotiations in a home purchase, it is recommended to ask the seller for a termite inspection.  During repair requests, ask the seller remediate the termite issues.

Other pests might include rodents, and if the home had a rodent infestation, then that would show up on a home inspection.

Cracking in Driveway

If you notice fine cracking in the driveway or walkway, that might be as a result of the concrete being improperly installed. If you notice larger cracks that are perhaps uneven, this may be due to tree roots that are lifting up concrete. Tree roots can be very damaging to concrete, sidewalks and can wreak havoc on plumbing. Or cracking may be a result of unstable soil, and in this case, it would be recommended to have a soils engineer come to evaluate the property.

You may notice cracks in the floor in the home if the home is built on a slab foundation, and that may be the result of settling over the years. However, if there is wall to wall carpeting, you will not be able to notice any cracks.

This is an important red flag to consider when considering purchasing a property.

Signs of Water Intrusion

If you notice any discoloration in the ceiling, walls or around windows, it is likely there is a water leak. Sustained water intrusion can lead to mold growing in the property. If the home has signs of random painting that has been done in just one area and not an entire wall, then there may be prior water leaks or water staining in the area.

If you note new paint in only one area, then there is a possibility that a material defect is being covered up. An educated  Realtor will point this out to a home buyer.

Inferior Location of Home

Buyers need to keep in mind an important consideration of purchasing a home, is going to be resale. So while you think you found the perfect home, the location may be inferior. If the home backs up to or is on a busy street, you will have a much smaller buyer pool.

If the home backs up to something in the city which makes it inferior, then reconsider, as you will have a difficult time getting it sold in the future.

Final Thoughts

The last thing a home buyer wants to buy is a money pit. And by learning a little about home construction, you might be able to view some of these problems that can be very costly. A home inspection is always recommended and if you elect not to have one, then you might not be aware of expensive repairs the home may need. The last thing you want to do is purchase a home which has deferred maintenance and is a money pit.

Find Other Valuable Resources for “Top Red Flags Buyers Should Avoid When Purchasing a Home” from Real Estate Professionals Across the Country. Please check out the articles below, and please share across Social Media if you liked the articles.

Conor MacEvilly has written an excellent article about why Rain is Your Friend When Buying a Home. If it is raining, this may uncover any water-related issues that the home has. You might see evidence of water staining on walls, ceiling and around windows.

Bill Gassett shares information about How Not to Let your Home Inspection Become a Deal Killer over at Realty Times. A home inspection may uncover significant defects in the home that can kill the deal, and these need to be remedied before the seller puts the home back on the market.

There is no reason not to buy a home which has a septic system. Eric Jeanette has shared excellent information about Should You Purchase a Home with a Septic System.  If it has been inspected before the purchase to ensure it is operational and ensure it is maintained, the septic system should operate efficiently for decades.

Debbie Drummond has provided excellent information about Red Flags to Consider when Purchasing a Home. She talks about seeing a home with a price too good to be true, history of flooding in the home, and the presence of mold.

About the Author

The above real estate article “How to Prep Your Home For a Quick Sale This Spring? was written by Sharon Paxson at Newport Beach Real Estate. With experience since 2005 representing buyers, sellers, tenants, and landlords, we welcome the opportunity to serve you.

We work in Coastal Orange County CA areas including Corona del Mar, Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Tustin and more! If you are considering selling your home or buying a home, it will be a pleasure to represent you and sell your home with a top Newport Beach CA Realtor.

Top Red Flags Buyers Should Avoid When Purchasing a Home
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Top Red Flags Buyers Should Avoid When Purchasing a Home
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Top Red Flags Buyers Should Avoid When Purchasing a Home
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When buying a home, a buyer may experience feelings of being overwhelmed with the entire process. Especially first-time buyers, as everything is new, and they have not been through the home buying process previously
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Sharon Paxson is a full-time REALTOR® with Compass and has been specializing in residential real estate throughout the Newport Beach area since 2005 assisting Buyer’s, Seller’s, Landlords and Tenants with their real estate needs.

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