Looking to buy a home? If so, then obtaining the services of a real estate agent and touring homes for sale that meet your criteria is a critical first step. As you tour potential homes, however, there are a few "red flags" you'll want to watch out for that could indicate an underlying problem or the need for costly repairs down the road.
1. Strong Fragrances or Scents
When you first walk into a home for sale, make a note of the smells you notice. Obviously, you should be suspicious of any home with spaces that smell musty or moldy. However, you should also be on the lookout for strong fragrances or scents, as this could be a sign that the seller is trying to "cover up" a smell with candles, air fresheners, or other artificial sources.
2. Suspiciously Fresh Paint
While fresh paint isn't always a red flag (after all, many sellers will re-paint their home a more neutral color before listing) -- you should be on the lookout for suspicious areas of fresh paint. For example, fresh paint on one basement wall may be a sign that the sellers are trying to cover up previous water damage.
3. Older Components
When touring a home for sale, it's always a good idea to take a look at the age of the home's major components. This includes the furnace, air conditioning unit, water heater, and roof. In most cases, the installation and/or manufacture date will be listed on the component itself. The exception to this will be the roof, though you should be able to find out the age of the roof by simply inquiring with the seller's agent.
4. "Back on the Market"
While it's true that real estate deals fall through for perfectly innocent reasons all the time, a home that has repeatedly gone on and off the market should be seen as a red flag. It is possible that the deals are falling through because of an underlying problem with the home that doesn't come up until later in the process (such as during the inspection or appraisal). If you're thinking about putting an offer on a home that's "back on the market," don't hesitate to ask for the reasoning.
A little bit of noticing goes a long way when it comes to avoiding a potential money pit. Be sure to keep an eye out for these "red flags" as you shop around for your next home.