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Partner Post: Red Flags to Watch Out for While House Shopping

In my opinion, I’d rather not buy a house at all than buy one that’s going to cause a major headache down the line. It’s very important to buy smart and protect yourself because at the end of the day, if you end up buying a money pit, you’ll be the one responsible for it - not the seller or the home inspector.

Here are some red flags to watch out for as you’re house shopping:

Evidence of Leaking

I would say one of the biggest threats against your home is water. Water can do serious damage when it gets places it shouldn’t. Your first job as a homeowner is to protect your home from water damage.

How can you detect if a home has previously had issues with water? Your nose knows. If a home smells musty, there could be a water problem. Look out for any patch jobs on the walls and ceilings - it might mean there is or was a leak.

Unwanted Guests

No, I’m not talking about the in-laws. I’m talking about small pests, like mice, termites, or other small critters that can do serious damage to a home if they get inside. Look out for signs of creatures like mouse droppings or insect wings.

Horror Movie Lighting

Okay, not quite - but when you’re walking through the home, try out the light switches. Are the fixtures flickering? It could indicate a problem with the electrical system - and if you don’t get that checked out, you could be at risk of an electrical fire.

Does it Make the Grade?

This goes back to a home’s ability to repel water. Grading refers to a specified slope in the landscape. In the case of construction, you want a property to sit a little bit higher and slope downward away from the home. This keeps water moving away from your home when it rains (as opposed to directing it right to your foundation).

            Tip: Bring a rubber ball with you while house shopping. Place it on the driveway - if the                                   ball rolls towards the home, that’s not going to make the grade!

This is also why I don’t like to see gardens right next to the foundation. You’re just asking for trouble with water down the line.

Check the Permits

If you’re walking through a home and the realtor tells you that the previous homeowner just redid the kitchen AND the master bathroom - to me, that’s a red flag that this project could be a flip.

Permits are public information. Always check to see if permits were taken out on a home. If they weren’t, it’s a good sign that the homeowner likely did some renovations on their own - and if they weren’t a professional, who knows what dangers could be hiding behind the walls! 

Buying a home shouldn’t be a shot in the dark. It’s likely the biggest investment you will ever make, so make sure it’s a smart one!

About the Author

Mike Holmes, professional contractor and TV host, is working with Associa to refine the standards and protocols that today’s Homeowner’s Associations use to Make It Right™ for their homeowners. He brings more than 35 years of experience in renovations, construction, and inspection services, and is best known as the contractor and host of “Holmes on Homes” and “Holmes Makes It Right” where he rescues homeowners from repair and renovation disasters.