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Warning Signs When Buying a Property

Buying property is a significant financial commitment. Therefore, it is essential to understand what you are buying before giving up any money. Sometimes, overlooking a less significant detail or making an uneducated purchase can drain your money and time down the road.

To save your money when buying property, here are some warning signs you should be on the lookout for:

  • Tilts and Cracks
    Sometimes the interior of the property you are looking to buy can smell fresh and have recent paint or floor varnish. However, checking the exterior is also important. Often, tilts and cracks are an exhibition of underlying severe foundation issues, which can cost a fortune to replace.

    For example, what looks like a crack could need demolition of the entire structure to correct. Besides, when you begin rehabbing a property, the more you dig, the more problems you find.

    Therefore, while cracks are common, especially with old buildings, ensure they are less than a quarter-inch wide. Alternatively, it is wise to have a structural engineer pay the visit to the property. Remember, sometimes sellers paint the cracks to make them invisible, so look for surface mismatch during your inspection.

  • Restrictive Inspection
    Does your seller prevent you from accessing some room during your visit? That is a red sign, irrespective of the reasons they share with you. Often, when the seller insists that you cannot view some areas until you sign the contract, it is because there is something they are hiding. A listing agent for the property should allow you a full inspection of the property.

  • Lengthy Property Ownership History
    Requesting for the history of the property’s ownership is an essential yet majorly overlooked aspect. A property with high turnover can be a severe warning sign. The average length of property ownership should range between eight and nine years. So, if many previous owners owned the property for less than maybe two years, that is a red flag.

    While property inspections help shed light on the building or house, you can never know how comfortable or convenient the home is until you take possession. Always choose a house with little ownership history if possible.

  • Sellers Offer Incentives to Keep You from Coming for an Inspection
    Some cheeky sellers will make good incentives or offer compelling arguments for you to waive the inspection. Unless there is something the agent or the seller is hiding, there is no reason for you to forego inspection of a property you are willing to buy.

    It is imperative to have an inspection or site visit contingency as it will be your leverage to negotiate the price. Also, it can be your leverage to walk out of the deal should you find something unsatisfactory.

  • Water Damage
    Sellers are rarely honest with buyers, especially those looking to sell their property fast. Sometimes, the selling urgency makes sellers conceal any water leakage or damaged pipes with fresh paint. After some time, the area begins to breed mold, and it will be an unpleasant experience.

    Take a closer look, especially in the kitchen sink and beneath the sink. Also, check the underside of the kitchen drawers and the base of the toilets and tubs. If you notice any warped sheetrock under the window seals, it could indicate water leaks.

  • There are No Available Permits
    The seller should always have the permits, and it is in your best interest to ask for the “Report of Residential Building Record.” The report acts as the receipt for your property. If the seller has added any new deck, the addition should be featured in the report. If it is missing, then there is a high chance that the seller did not build the deck as per the set code, which could be unsafe.

    Therefore, during your inspection, check everything, and ask for permits. Be on the lookout for any constructions or adjustments made without a permit. While some trivial things such as remodeling and changing windows do not need a permit, you can quickly inspect and see if the tasks were done correctly.

    On the other hand, for significant construction such as electrical work and major structural property work that needs a permit, you should insist on one. Sometimes, sellers do not have the permits due to time, cost, and high property taxes.

  • Uneven Floors
    During a site visit to a property, it is crucial to carry a marble with you. Place the marble on the floor in different rooms to judge the evenness of the floor. Evaluating whether the floor is even or uneven could be difficult using the naked eye.

    Older houses tend to have uneven floors because often, houses aggressively settle, creating a hump in the middle of the house. Deflections are costly to correct because you will have to rip out the entire floor and find a floor that matches. Also, you will need to correct the support column and ensure the final finishing matches the original flooring.

    Depending on how uneven the floor is, sometimes, correcting it could need some foundation work. While it is common and natural for property to have uneven floors, correcting it could be costly, especially if you had not set aside some finances.

  • Room Fresheners
    It is the role of the sales agent of the property to ensure the room is hospitable. However, too much use of room freshener could be a red sign. The freshener or scent could be applied to mask an odor coming from the house. It can be the odor from a leaking pipe, sewage, or mold.

  • Spray Painted Hedges
    As awkward as it may seem, some sellers go the extra mile and spray paint the hedges. Other realtors also buy new grass and place it on the dead front lawn to give a false impression.

    While curb appeal for a new home is essential, the seller or realtor should do it right. The question is if they can take these shortcuts to get you to sign the contract, are there any other shortcuts they are assuming that you might not know about?

Final Words
Our list above includes the warning signs you should always look for when buying property. Now that you have a hint of what to look for, you can buy your property with more confidence. If possible, tag a structural engineer along during the inspection and remember to ask for permits!
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