7 Scary Red Flags to Watch Out For When Buying a House

While real estate apps can help you find a great home and the right real estate agent can help you buy it, it is up to you to make the final decision. When you are getting ready to make an offer, beware of these common red flags that should stick out when buying a home.

Foundation Problems

Photo by WayTru

Photo by WayTru

There is nothing worse than buying a home and having to do an unexpected, major repair on the property. One of the ugliest repairs is a bad foundation.

According to HomeAdvisor, the average reported foundation repair will set you back $4,443, and can cost as much as $10,000 for more severe problems.

Head that one off from the start. I once looked at a potential property and only spent a few minutes in the basement before I spotted a big crack, and a reason to walk away.


Damp Basements

Photo by State Farm

Photo by State Farm

If the yard slopes toward the house, or the basement wasn’t built up to par, water may leak in from windows, crawl spaces, and even through the walls or floor.

With damp basements comes many possible problems. Flooding, mold, rusty pipes, mildew, and water condensation may be close behind.

The solutions are not cheap or easy to deal with. Sump pump installation can cost thousands, and re-sealing or replacing windows, adding dehumidifiers, adding drains, increasing ventilation, and sealing basement walls are other costly potential repairs.


Bad Wiring

Photo by ilovebutter

Photo by ilovebutter

A few weeks ago, I was looking at a potential investment property and walked around to the narrow side yard. I saw an open plastic junction box with all sorts of wires spilling out.

Bad wiring does not always cause a problem right away, but you risk serious danger with fires, electrocution, power outages, and other avoidable problems.

According to the Houston Chronicle, electricians may charge $40-$100 per hour to fix problems like this. If they have to spend two days in your house updating your wiring and switches, you could be out well over a thousand dollars.


Appliance Failures

How bad would it be to buy a “fixer upper” in Chicago to have your furnace fail during your first winter in the house? In addition to being cold, you can expect to spend $2,000-$7,000 depending on the efficiency and the size of your home.  Installation and hauling your old pile of junk away isn’t cheap either. With most furnaces lasting for 12-18 years, the one you are looking at might be on the way toward breaking down too.


Photo by choking sun

Photo by choking sun

If you are looking for a home in a termite friendly climate, look for the signs that the little guys are eating away at the wood in your home. Depending on the size of your home and the type of treatment needed, you will pay between $1,200-$3,000 for your repair.

And, if you are a Breaking Bad fan, you know what might happen under the big tent…


Roof Leaks and Problems

Photo by Pamela Stocks

Photo by Pamela Stocks

Roof repairs are charged per square foot, and can vary widely depending on the type of roofing you use. But rest assured you can expect to spend thousands to replace a roof.

Roof problems can cause water to leak into your house. Roofing problems can let pests and critters into your attic or other parts of your house.

So, unless you want to spend big or wake up with a squirrel in your bedroom, make sure the roof is in good shape before you buy.


Environmental Concerns

Photo by Mike Baird

Photo by Mike Baird

While you may not have something as dramatic as a nuclear power plant out your back door, check the surrounding environment before you buy.

Is the home in a flood zone? Was the site ever used as a cemetery or trash dump? Sure, zombies are unlikely and landfills can be cleaned up, but those can hurt resale value, or worse.

More likely, you may run into problems like finding trash in your yard, finding a rush of water coming down the hill, dealing with underground mineral issues, or other problems that might arise.

If you know what is going on in the neighborhood and area surrounding the home, you won’t have any big surprises after you buy.

If you are buying or selling a house and are looking to hire a successful real estate agent to help you through the process, take a look at AgentHarvest's list of top-ranking local Realtors in your area. We found these agents by examining their sales track records, awards, rankings, client testimonials and by conducting personal interviews.