4 Real Estate Red Flags to Watch Out For When Buying a Home

Buying a new home will likely be the largest purchase you make in your lifetime, so it makes sense to be extra cautious as you approach this major milestone. While you might be focused on finding your new home’s list of must-haves, pay close attention to any of these red flags that may pop up throughout your real estate search.

1. A Home that Doesn’t Conform to the Local Market

One of the first things to watch out for is a deal that may be too good to be true. Allan Glass, a real estate broker with ASG Real Estate Inc. in Los Angeles, CA says it’s not uncommon to stumble upon a home that appears to be the perfect deal — only to discover a plethora of problems later.

A home that is much too cheap for an area might be a red flag, indicating that there might be an expensive problem that will need to be fixed down the road. Unless you are in the market for a cheaper home that you can refinish, a house with an inexpensive price tag may end up being more expensive than you bargained for.

Additionally, you should watch out for homes that are too expensive for an area, or that have features out of the ordinary for the market — you may have trouble selling the home later.

“Don’t check common sense at the door, and vet every opportunity,” Glass says. “Many properties that seem like deals on the surface truly aren’t.”

2. Music and Scented Candles

While attractive music and scents can enhance your experience as you search for a home, the reality is that they can be red flags.

“Sellers sometimes attempt to play music to cover noises and light scented candles to dilute nasty odors,” says Clair Jones, a moving expert with Movearoo. “Some place furniture in front of flaws on walls and floors.”

Before agreeing to buy the home, view it without these enhancements. You might detect underlying problems with the home, including mold and mildew or damage done by pets or smoking.

3. Length of Time on the Market

A home that has been on the market for a long time raises red flags. “This typically indicates some deficiency with the listing,” Glass says.

He points out that some of these homes may have undisclosed physical problems, or that the real estate photos don’t accurately represent the home. Another issue might be related to the actual selling process — the home could be in probate or be the subject of divorce proceedings, making it difficult to close.

4. Lack of Disclosure

A disclosure form should provide information about structural, electrical and plumbing issues, as well as offer information about asbestos, termites, lead paint and soil contamination.

“Always request a disclosure form before agreeing to buy a property,” Jones advises. “They are not mandatory in some states and some sellers try to avoid it if they don’t have to provide one.”

If you are having difficulty obtaining a disclosure report, or if the seller is reluctant to allow a thorough home inspection, that could be a red flag that something major is wrong with the property.

Glass recommends paying attention to the home inspection report, and double-checking the credentials of the home inspector to ensure that you have the true story of the home before you buy.

With any major purchase, it’s important to recognize the risks before making a final decision. Taking the time to address any potential problems in a new home before buying will help to ensure that you’ve made the right choice and the right investment.