First Steps

7 Red Flags to Avoid When Choosing a Property

Published on: September 25, 2018

You saw the house, and you just knew — it was love at first sight. But before you get too excited, make sure it’s a relationship worth fighting for. By paying attention to certain tell-tale signs of wear and tear, you can uncover the truth about your dream home even from the first viewing and without a home inspection.

Be a smart house hunter — don’t be distracted by the homeowner’s decorating efforts or the staged smell of warm cookies. Instead, use these tips for what to look for when buying a house, whether it’s newly built or a few decades old:

Old Roof

You might not get a quick answer from the real estate agent, but you should always ask about the roof’s age and any repairs or upgrades made to it. Ask to see the roof’s warranty and consult with a roofing expert if you have doubts.

Problematic Windows

Open and close the windows to check for leaks and proper installation. Inefficient windows will increase your utility bills and are costly to replace. Also, windows that stick could be a sign of a structural problem.

Structural Issues

While tiny cracks in the walls are commonplace, larger cracks or gaps could point to a problem in the foundation and other structural issues. Sagging floors or doors that stick also might reveal structural problems. If there’s a basement, look to see if there’s any dampness or standing water, which could be a sign of potential flooding.


Look under rugs, chairs and tables to see if there’s any floor damage. Check for patches of fresh paint that might be hiding large cracks, termite damage, or mold. Too many scented candles and air fresheners may be an attempt to hide the scent of mold, mildew, cigarette smoke, or faulty plumbing.

Plumbing and Electrical Issues

It’s hard to detect serious wiring and plumbing issues without a home inspection, but you can still learn a few things just by turning on and testing everything electrical: lights, appliances, exhaust fan, garbage disposal, garage door, etc. Check for leaks or other issues when you flush toilets, turn on faucets and showers. Be upfront: ask if there are any wiring or plumbing issues or have been in the past, and what’s been done to fix them.

Too Many Trees

Older, well-established trees can offer much-needed shade if you live in a hot climate. However, they can also block much-needed sunlight in colder climates, or present a hazard to the house during strong storms. Also, deep roots of certain types of trees could interfere with the sewage system.

Noisy Surroundings

Is the home near a busy road or highway? Proximity to a hospital means wailing ambulance sirens. Living near an airport is useful, but get too close and you’ll have the constant, thunderous drone of commercial jets. How close are the neighboring homes and yards? Is there a major, long-term construction project nearby?

Knowledge is power, so be prepared with a checklist of warning signs that will help you know exactly what to look for when buying a house. When you find your dream home, Finance of America Mortgage is ready to help you seal the deal.

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