As of Dec. 2020, the median sales price of an American home is roughly $263,000. Although real estate pricing is highly influenced by geography, homes are expensive no matter where you live. During the home-buying process, it's normal to feel nervous. By keeping an eye peeled for these red flags, you'll have a much easier time avoiding problem homes.
1. Never Ignore Stubborn Doors
Homes usually have several interior doors. Traditionally outfitted on bedrooms, closets, and bathrooms, interior doors are primarily used for privacy or decor. Although you frequently use bathroom doors, you might overlook stubborn bedroom or closet doors.
When touring homes, open and close every interior door at least once. If these doors don't smoothly open and close, foundation problems could be to blame. Over time, homes naturally settle. Uneven settling often knocks door frames out of alignment.
Put simply, hard-to-close doors indicate foundation problems.
To get around door issues, homeowners sometimes shave doors to fit their now-faulty frames. While you're testing interior doors out, check how they're shaped. Funny angles mean they've been shaved. All of these signs are major red flags.
2. Look Out for These Signs of Fresh Paint
Many homeowners and real estate agents paint at least a few rooms before listing their homes. Paint is an easy way to refresh homes, making them more valuable. On its own, fresh paint isn't a bad thing.
If only one wall has a coat of fresh paint, however, this could indicate a cover-up. Although this isn't always true, half-done paint jobs help homeowners disguise damage.
Small patches or splotches of paint are an even larger concern. In general, the most common reason homeowners paint rooms is to improve appearance. Small sections of paint make things look worse. As such, incomplete painting projects can usually be considered red flags.
3. Trust Your Nose
Few people are willing to buy homes with bad odors. Often difficult to track down and eliminate, unpleasant smells are major red flags.
Homeowners and real estate agents may burn candles, light incense sticks, or use oil diffusers to stage homes. While they might lead to a better home-buying experience, scents can be used to cover up unscrupulous odors.
Trust your sense of smell when viewing homes. Don't be afraid to ask sellers to avoid using products with strong fragrances before visiting. Without these smells, you can better detect potential odors.
4. What to Think About Busy Property Histories
Most Americans can't afford to buy multiple homes. Traditionally, people only buy one or two homes in their entire lifetimes. Unless they're renting, people generally spend many years in homes before leaving.
The internet makes it easy to find deed transfer histories. Before touring homes, look for their property records. Multiple sales in recent years could point to major issues.
Ideally, homes shouldn't have more than two transactions in the past decade. Take caution when considering homes with busy property histories.