8 Warning Signs to Look For When Buying a Home

8 Warning Signs to Look For When Buying a Home
If you’re looking for a new home, what are the red flags that should send you running for the hills, or at least exercising a little caution?

Whether you’re a first-time buyer or a seasoned homeowner, it can be tempting to let your heart rule your head when it comes to house hunting. If you fall in love with a property, you don’t want to see the potential issues it may have. 

That’s why we’ve put together this checklist to help you avoid making a costly, time-consuming, and stressful mistake. 

8 Warning Signs to Look For When Buying a Home

1. Cracks in the Walls

These don’t always spell disaster, but they will need investigating. Deep, wide cracks in plaster and brickwork could indicate structural issues that are often not cheap or quick and easy to repair. The location of cracks can also be telling — cracks above doors and windows are of particular concern.

2. An Unpleasant Odour

If you notice a musty smell, this could indicate a mould problem. Look out for signs of black mould as this can cause or exacerbate health conditions, and it is often expensive to rectify. Faulty plumbing and sewerage can also result in an unpleasant smell in the home. If there are lots of scented candles and air fresheners dotted around, this could be an attempt to disguise unpleasant odours.

3. Ownership History

Search the Land Registry for details of the properties ownership history. Has it changed hands frequently? If people choose not to stay long in the property, this could be a red flag. Are there problem neighbours? Is the area unpleasant to live in (high crime, poor amenities and schools, is it polluted)? This doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker. Still, it may suggest that further investigation is necessary, such as speaking to people in the local area, paying for a full building survey, etc., before you are tempted into a quick house sale. 

4. Rising Damp

This occurs when the water rises up the brickwork of a building from the ground. Telltale signs include damp patches on the walls, peeling paint or wallpaper, bubbling plaster, a musty smell, black mould, rotting skirting boards and flooring, and crumbling bricks. Rising damp can be difficult and expensive to treat. You will need to rectify any damage the damp has caused and prevent the issue from continuing or recurring. It’s important to know if this is a problem before you make an offer so that you can factor this into negotiations. 

5. Non-Standard Construction

Properties classified as “non-standard construction” can be difficult to sell because they are often unmortgageable. Unless you are a cash buyer, this will probably make a non-standard property impossible for you to buy. Not only that but also, it is a risky investment because you will probably find it hard to sell if you decide to move in the future. A house is a “non-standard construction” if not made from traditional building materials such as bricks and mortar with a slate or tiled roof. 

6. Outdated Electrics

Many buyers mistakenly believe that a standard house survey covers a property’s electrical system when in fact, they need to commission a separate Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) to check that all is well with the wiring. Without this, it's impossible to tell if the electrics are fit for purpose. If the property is old and uncared for, this could be a red flag. Rewiring a house is extremely expensive and disruptive to the point you may be unable to live in the property while the work is being done — so it's worth investing in an EICR.

7. Over Eager Sellers

If the sellers are falling over themselves to get a quick house sale, or if they snap your hand off when you offer much less than the asking price, this might make you wonder why they are so desperate to sell. It could be for an entirely legitimate reason like a relationship breakdown, ill health, relocating for work. However, it’s worth digging a little deeper and checking that it’s not because of nightmare neighbours or some other issue with the property that is likely to be as stressful for you as it is for them! 

8. A Dodgy Heating System

As with electrics, replacing a heating system or installing central heating where none currently exists is neither an easy nor a budget task. If the seller cannot provide documents to show when the boiler was last serviced, or the system is noisy when turned on, it’s well worth getting it checked thoroughly before making an offer.

8 Warning Signs to Look For When Buying a Home

Buying a house can be a daunting task. For most of us, it is the biggest financial commitment we will ever make. Don’t let your emotions cloud your judgement. Take the time to register red flags and take action. It’s better to investigate and find nothing of a concern than to find a significant problem that will cost thousands to repair after you’ve moved in.

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  1. We have the same list when it comes to buying or moving into a new house here in Korea. It's really important to check the quality of the house. Another that we check here is if the location is near to hospitals, bank, schools, subway and market.

  2. Thank you for this. We’re actually buying a house and i wish that i came across this blog when we were making the decision. Hoping for the best though!

  3. one is, especially if you are in the Philippines, asking if hows the flooding in the area :D relate much.

  4. Medyo scary nga talaga pag over-eager yung sellers. Mas okay pa rin talaga if we know the background of the house before signing up any contracts.

    1. That is true. Buying a property in the Philippines is still a tough experience especially the system isn't modernized yet.


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