These are the adrenaline flushed emotions that can blind people from seeing potential red
flags when buying a home. Of course, not every potential problem is a deal breaker. In fact, many can
be fixed or used as a negotiating tool. Still, the following red flags should make you look a little more closely at a house before
finalizing a deal or in some cases, before making an offer.

Age of property

When a house was built can play into things like the condition of the roof, furnace, and hot water heater.
If you need a new roof you might be able to negotiate on price. If the air conditioning unit is
more than 10 years old you’ll likely need a new one soon. Keep that in mind when making your offer.

Potential Foundation/Structural Problems

Every home experiences minor cracking as it settles but major cracks could be a sign of
foundation problems. Door frames that seem crooked or doors that won’t close are another
possible sign. If it seems serious enough,  the only way to be 100% sure is to hire a structural
engineer to conduct an inspection.


Musty or stale odors can be a sign of moisture problems or circulation issues. Making sure your
home smells good for a showing is common advice. Experts often recommend opening
windows or lighting a candle… BUT if a home has windows open in the winter or has an air
freshener in every room, it might be the homeowner is trying to cover up a smell. It’s worth
asking a few questions.

Random Stains On Walls and/or Ceilings

If you notice a stain while you are looking at a house, that’s a red flag you’ll want to investigate.
It could be a sign of a leaky roof, or a plumbing issue. Some sellers will try to cover up a stain by
simply painting over it. If you notice freshly painted spots in a house, start asking questions.
The problem may have been corrected already and you’ll find there is nothing to worry about.
But assuming it’s been fixed could cost you thousands of dollars.

Drainage issues

This one can be hard to see depending on the timing of your visit. Standing water, big dips in
the yard, overflowing gutters, or water stains on basement walls could be trouble signs. When
you are in the backyard look to see if the yard runs at a slight angle away from the home. It’s
important that water is able to drain away from the house.

Buying a home is a big investment and ignoring red flags could end up costing you more in the long run.

A home inspection should catch most things including pest problems or electrical issues.
Of course, a good real estate agent will also point out any potential issues they see. Better yet,
they can tell you how to navigate each issue. That’s just one of the many reasons it is important
to work with an agent you trust!