Here at Homeowners Financial Group, we’re firm believers that buying a home doesn’t have to be stressful. With each property we finance, we set out to make the process fun, exciting, and enjoyable, because homeownership should be all of those things and more!

But on the subject of properties, not all of them are created equal, nor do they all hit the market in the same condition. Even if you’re fine with a renovation project or two, some homes are far less turnkey than others and have major red flags associated with them.

Of course, you should always have a professional perform a thorough inspection of any home you plan on buying. But even during the initial stages of the process when you’re simply shopping for properties, there are a few things you can be on the lookout for yourself before you decide to sign a contract.

Here are 5 of them:

  1. The price is low…suspiciously low. Everyone likes to save money by scoring a great deal, but the old adage applies: if it seems to good to be true, it probably is. If the price of a home is significantly lower than similar properties in the area – or even more concerning, the home has been on the market for a while at that price and hasn’t been snapped up already by another buyer – you should be wary of why it’s such a bargain. The chances are good that any money you save now will go toward repairing all the problems that warranted such a low listing price later.
  2. Several of the neighboring houses are for sale. If you notice that the home you have your eye on is surrounded by a lot of For Sale signs in nearby front yards, that may not be an indication that the neighborhood is a hot commodity. Don’t be afraid to ask your own agent why that might be the case. It could be anything from local crime rates to the quality of the schools, or it could be just a coincidence.
  3. The foundation is cracked. When walking through a home you think you may want to buy, be sure to take a close look at the lowest level (usually the basement) and see if you notice any cracks in the walls. If rainwater and other moisture hasn’t been properly directed away from the structure, the foundation could eventually give way and cave in, resulting in a major repair bill.
  4. There are water stains on the ceiling. As you’re looking up to assess the height of a home’s ceilings (or to see if it has those dreaded popcorn ceilings that everyone on HGTV seems to hate) try to spot any stains that may indicate a leaky roof or plumbing. If you notice any, especially larger ones, it may be wise to walk away. At the very least, ask lots of questions about what may have caused them and why they haven’t been repaired.
  5. It smells damp, musty, or like lots of air freshener. Here’s another one related to water damage that could be the worst of them all, because it may indicate a chronic problem that hasn’t been addressed yet. It could also mean the presence of mold and other hazards to your personal health, and excessive air freshener usually means someone is trying to conceal or cover up the issue.

Along the lines of what we said earlier, we’re not in the business of scaring anyone away from buying a home. But we are in the business of improving people’s lives, and potentially problematic homes don’t do that for their new owners.

Enlisting the services of a trusted real estate agent and home inspector can go a long way toward improving your peace of mind. So can contacting your local Homeowners Licensed Mortgage Professional to handle your home financing. We can refer you to an agent or inspector if you don’t already have one (or both) so they help you feel good about the home you’d like to own. When they do, we’d be honored to make your mortgage process as easy and pleasurable as possible!

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