Often, many home buyers are passive observers of layouts, rooms, and brands of appliances while on their house hunt. However, smart buyers will know what to look for that’s of real importance.
It’s a competitive market these days and most homes you walk into will have been professionally cleaned, staged and upgraded to fit most modern trends. Don’t let these aesthetics rope you in too tightly, though. Consider the open house to be like a first date, allowing you the chance to get to know the home a little bit more than just the photos you saw online. Is this a home worth seeing again? Or did the first impression leave you wondering if you should move on? Keep reading to learn the red flags to watch for at open houses, and click this link for the entire list.
Red flag No. 1: Too much scent
Don’t let those freshly baked cookies or potpourri simmering on the stove fool you. The more aggressive the scent, the greater the likelihood the seller is taking precautions to mask a more offensive odor, says Denise Supplee, a real estate agent with Long and Foster Real Estate in Doylestown, PA.
“When there’s too much going on in the scent department—plug-ins, wax warmers, and candles, for example—I wonder what that overkill is hiding.”
Take a deep whiff in every room you enter, and look closely at walls, ceilings, and flooring for signs of pet accidents, mildew, or smoke.
Red flag No. 2: Poor tiling
Inspect the tile in kitchens and bathrooms, suggests Eugene Gamble, a real estate investor and owner of WeFundYourFlips in Tampa, FL.
“If the gaps or tiles are slightly uneven, it may indicate a DIY job, which will make me think twice, especially if I know this house was flipped,” he says. Lazy tiling could indicate that multiple fixes might have been done on the fly, which can add up to big bucks in potential repair costs.
Red flag No. 3: Foundation issues
Most houses have hairline cracks, which just indicate the house is settling into its position, but large gaps signal a bigger issue with the foundation, says Gamble. Other tipoffs: sticking doors or windows, visible cracks above window frames, and uneven floors. How do you know if the floors are uneven? Roll a marble from one side to the other. (This might be more subtle if you have kids with you.)
Red flag No. 4: Signs of deferred maintenance
“When I walk through a home, I look for signs that the owner might have neglected routine home maintenance,” says real estate agent Malcolm Lawson, with Keller Williams Select Realtors in Annapolis, MD. He cites issues such as burned-out lightbulbs, long grass, leaky faucets, or faded paint. “These signs indicate the seller may have ignored other ongoing home maintenance tasks that can cause real problems down the road.”
An attentive homeowner is going to flush the water heater annually, change air filters monthly, clean the chimney, inspect the roof for leaks, and regularly recaulk around windows and doors, for example, which will keep all those systems in good working order.