As a successful Windsor Real Estate agent for over 20 years, I have seen countless homes where the “For Sale” sign should read, “Avoid Me.” This is particularly true when sellers are very eager to sell their home. But obviously you can’t get a home inspection on every house that you are looking at, but take me word for it, many of these homes have clear signs that they should be crossed off your list:
1. Residents Are Leaving In Droves
Look around the neighbourhood. Why are there so many houses for sale? If this is the case, then you should raise an eyebrow and ask your agent for more information. Look around and see if the local businesses are busy or if they are having an “Out of Business Sale.” If everyone is leaving, then ask yourself why you are buying.
2. Bad Maintenance
If a home has been neglected or repairs were incorrectly made, then you may want to consider what else may be hiding. Signs of poor home maintenance include crumbling masonry, broken fixtures and appliances, bad smells, overgrown landscaping and bad electrical wiring or plumbing. These repairs are often costly and if you aren’t willing to pay for them or correct yourself, then this is not a house for you.
3. Foundation Problems
As mentioned above, you can’t hire an inspector to walk through every house you tour, but you can see signs of problems. Foundations issues are usually very costly. Check out the yard grading. If the slope is toward the house, then water can run into the foundation walls or basement. If you see bulges or cracks larger than 1/3 of an inch, it could have structural issues.
4. Bad Smells
Sometimes when we walk through the house we are overwhelmed with air fragrance. When it’s too much, you have to wonder if the seller is trying to hide something. What smells to be aware of while looking at properties? Sewage, gas or mildew odors are the top offenders. Of course, smoke and pet odors instantly turn off buyers as well because there are times where you can’t get rid of those smells. Make sure you step outside and take a big whiff as well. Is the home located near a factory or business that has offending odors? Where there are bad smells, you usually have a problem. And it can be an expensive problem.
5. Faulty Wiring
When looking at a home, test the electrical switches and outlets in the home to make sure they are working correctly. Flickering lights, hot or warm outlets indicate there could be wiring problems.
6. Saggy Walls and Ceilings
If you walk into a room, and notice only one side of a room is freshly painted, look up at the ceiling. Is it sagging? Check out the walls and see if they are as well. Do you smell mold? Chances are you can be looking at water leaks. And often mold is associated with these issues. If you really want the house, make sure an inspector is well aware of these concerns.
It’s never fun to show a client a home and in the kitchen are hundreds of ants on the counter. Also, it’s never a good idea to leave out mousetraps for the buyer to see either. No one wants a pest problem so if you believe that the property you are interested in may have bug issues, ask for a separate pest inspection.
8. Foggy Windows
Chances are, if you have nonfunctioning windows or they have a foggy look, then water has leaked in between the double-paned windows. Always check to see if windows are working throughout the house. Sellers expect buyers to see if things are working properly in a home. So don’t be shy if you want to test something that looks like it may have a problem.
9. Locked Rooms
It’s always strange when a room is locked up and buyers aren’t allowed to go in. While this is rare, it does make you wonder why a room is off-limits and raises all kinds of questions. A buyer imagines the worst and we can all only assume that such a room must be in really bad condition.
10. Questionable renovations
If you see a renovation that looks suspicious, you may be right. A load-bearing wall that has been removed without adjusting the framing can cause all kinds of problems. A structural engineer will need to be hired to make sure the home is safe.
The bottom line is: never skip a home inspection. If your radar is up when you visit a property that you want to make an offer, then write down every one of your concerns and make sure the inspector addresses each one. Buying a home that requires much-needed repairs means you may be paying more in the long run.