5 Red Flags When Buying a Home

5 Red Flags When Buying a Home

Buying a home can be a stressful process – here are my top 5 red flags when buying a home!

A home purchase is often your biggest investment, and like any investment, you want to keep yourself as protected as possible. When I’m out shopping with buyers, here are the five red flags when buying a home that I caution my buyers on. None of these reasons alone necessarily mean: STOP don’t buy this house! But all of these questions should cause the buyer to pause, ask more questions and do further research, and bring in the appropriate experts before making a commitment.

1. Are there unusual stains, smells, or cracks in the house?

Stains, smells and cracks can all be signs of damage to the home and should all be carefully considered. Water stains on the ceilings or in the basement walls can indicate leaks from the foundation, roof, or plumbing. You’ll need to assess if this damage is old and has been rectified, if it’s ongoing, or if it represents a major risk to you if you take over the home. Smells are another indicator of damage. Smells of smoke, sewage, mould, moisture, etc – all shouldn’t be ignored and should be carefully considered to identify the source and the plan (and cost) to rectify. Cracks are the final sign of potential damage. While some cracks are minor and caused by settling of the home, others can indicate major structural and foundational issues.

2. Are the neighbouring properties in unusually poor condition?

The quality of homes in your area impacts value and it can influence your quality of life as well. If neighbouring properties are commercial spaces, you should consider if there is noise, traffic or pollutants in the area. If neighbouring properties are residential homes in poor, unkept, or abandoned condition, you might want to consider if you personally feel safe in the area. You should also consider if the neighbouring properties are attracting rodents, which could cause damage to your home.

3. Has the property changed ownership more frequently than normal?

It’s not unusual to see a home change ownership around the 5-year mark (people’s lives change over five years). But if a home is sold much more often than normal, it’s worth thinking about why. It’s unusual for a home to change hands every year for multiple years in a row. Maybe some of the sales were done under power of sale (where the owner was in default on mortgage payments). Maybe the house is in poor condition and multiple owners only realize the extent when they moved in. Or perhaps it was a random occurrence. It can be challenging to gauge the history of the house, but buyers should at least think about potential reasons why past owners repeatedly move so quickly.

4. Are there proposals for development or major changes to the area?

Sometimes major development in an area can be a good thing – it brings revitalization to a neighbourhood. But in other cases, it can be very disruptive to the immediate neighbourhood. If a condo or townhouse complex is being built nearby, how will traffic, construction noise, and shadows impact your life? Are any new transit routes planned, and will the city need to acquire your property at any point? If a new commercial building is being proposed, what type of industry are they in and how will that impact you?

5. Has the home had previous deals fall through when in the conditional period?

While you may never know the exact details of why a previous deal fell through, it’s worth asking about. Inspection issues, problems with the condo corporation’s finances or rules, or issues obtaining insurance or financing (beyond simply personally qualifying for a mortgage): all are things that could come up in a conditional period and impact future purchasers. If you see that a previous deal fell through, it’s prudent to ask why and assess if there are any major concerns.

When you are house hunting, are there any other red flags you watch out for?

Whenever you are ready to begin your home search, send me a message!