5 Red Flags to Look Out for When Buying a House


It’s no secret that buying a house is a huge investment. You don’t only consider the purchase price, but you also have to factor in the costs of repairs, renovations, maintenance, and home association fees, if applicable.

With all of that in mind, it’s important to be aware of some of the potential pitfalls that can come with purchasing a home. These “red flags” can include structural issues, water damage, electrical problems, and more.

If you’re not careful, you could end up buying a money pit that will cost you thousands of dollars in repairs. So, what should you look out for? Here are a few red flags to watch out for when buying a house:

Pest Problems

Pest problems are always a pain; we don’t want to see that in a house. A small pest problem might not cause too much of an issue since all houses have them. But a severe one should be a deal breaker. However, many pests, especially the wood-eating kind, can cause a lot of damage in a house that would take you thousands of dollars to fix. The most common are termites, powder post beetles, and carpenter ants.

You should always take it seriously if the owner brings up a pest problem or your inspector notices it. Moreover, you can choose the house to be inspected by a professional before buying it, and then you can base your decision on their findings.

Random Fresh Paint

For sellers, according to home builder Easystart Homes, a quick and inexpensive way to make the house look a lot nicer and newer is to coat it with fresh paint. However, they can also use this method to hide any damage the house has, especially if the paint is only specific to one area. That in itself should be a massive red flag for you.

Home Realtors don’t recommend only coating a small and specific area with paint, as most of the time, when it comes to painting, they would recommend it in the general sense. Thus, if you notice one, you should ask the question, “What is the purpose of that one random area of fresh paint?” because most of the time, the owner is hiding something that would be concerning for potential buyers.

Doors that Have Difficulty Closing

Doors that have difficulty closing and opening usually mean that the framing members have already shifted, and the door frame is now out of square. Sometimes, to fix this issue, homeowners would shave a bit off the top or bottom of the door to get it to close. 

If you notice a shaved-off part of the door, that should be a cause for concern. Also, that door might be able to move quickly now, but the problem with the framing still exists. This might be a small issue for some, but it can be an expensive thing to fix.

Foundation Cracks

At some point, foundations would have prevalent hairline cracks, especially if it’s old ones. For the most part, it’s not yet a cause for concern at this point, but if the crack is half an inch wide, then you might want to have a professional inspect this area. 

Chances are that there are many more in the places we can see. Also, if you see that some of the areas in the foundation are patched up with fresh cement, that should be a massive red flag. Not only would it be expensive to fix, but it can also put you and your family in danger.

Moldy Smell

If you smell mold at any point in the showing, you should bring it up with an inspector. It’s one of the most common house problems and one of the biggest and most expensive issues to fix. While most mold varieties aren’t toxic like Stachybotrys, all of them can cause respiratory problems and other illnesses like headaches and, worst, mold poisoning. Some of these illnesses can even hurt your health in the long run.

If you smell mold, look behind and under the sink, around the windows, crawl spaces, and even the basement. If you suspect that the mold problem has been here for a long time, many things need to be replaced like the carpet, wood members, drywall, etc. As mentioned earlier, it might be one of the most common issues, but it’s one of the most expensive.

Final Thoughts

Purchasing a home is a big decision. Not only can it affect your finances, but it can also significantly impact the life you will have in that house. Hence, it’s important to do your research and be aware of the potential risks involved. By following these tips, you can help ensure that your home-buying experience is as smooth and stress-free as possible.