A common question “what are the red flags for home buyers to watch out for?”; There are a bazillion things to watch out for when you’re on the hunt for a new home, and this is a question that comes up often. As much as you might think it’s just about what you physically see inside the home, there’s actually more to it than meets the eye. This post will cover the nitty gritty of the answer to this question, and some of the answers might surprise you. I hope you can handle some brutal truth – here are the red flags for home buyers in Saskatoon to watch out for.
- Bad Agents
It’s no secret that real estate agents (and salespeople in general) have a bad rap – and sometimes there’s good reason for it. Like any industry, there are those types of people who lack experience or education. Realtors must follow a strict code of ethics, use your instinct. Be cautious in multiple offer situations and agents trying to ‘double end’ (when an agent is representing both the buyer and seller). You can read about Dual Agency and the responsibilities an agent owes to each party in a transaction here. Use common sense, listen to your gut, research online, get another opinion, and ask lots of questions! Remember that if you’re not happy with the agent you’re dealing with, you can always choose to work with another one (unless you’ve signed a buyer’s agency agreement – beware of those too).
- Foundation or structural problems, drainage and grading
These can be some of the toughest defects to find, especially if a home is completely finished in the basement. Most homes have cracks in their foundations (shifting, settlement, and climate contribute to that here in Saskatchewan). Here’s what you want to look out for: horizontal cracking – this can mean a loss in structural integrity, or potential for same down the road. If you’re unsure or concerned about cracking, have a structural engineer provide an opinion. You can read more about the different types of foundation cracks in THIS article. One of the best times to buy a home is in the spring during the melt so that your home inspector can use his moisture meter and detect any penetrating water. Again, cracking can occur for various reasons (settlement, shifting, tree roots, pressure from soil/water, age, poor drainage, and poor engineering) so it’s best to determine the cause is or was, and obtain a professional opinion or two before taking action on any repairs.
- Water staining, water damage or active moisture
Typically arising from the same places in every home – foundation, roof or plumbing; water penetration is one of the biggest issues any home faces. Look for discoloured wood, stained ceilings, efflorescence, plumbing leaks and pooling. Use your nose – can you smell a musty damp scent? Is it humid indoors? Feel free to reference THIS blog post about keeping water out of your home.
- DIY repairs and renovations
There’s nothing like buying a home and having to re-do someone’s shotty handiwork. It’s usually blatantly obvious and recognizable during your first five seconds in a home. There’s a collection of “flippers” out there who think a fresh coat of poorly applied paint, and a few other cosmetic replacements will put some money in their pocket. Look for workmanship, finishing details and quality. Ask your Realtor who owns the home and why they’re selling.
- Old home problems
Knob & tube electrical wiring, ungrounded outlets, lead paint or lead pipes, old or roots in the plumbing, asbestos, insufficient insulation, roof issues, foundation issues, water issues, mould, pests, outdated appliances…the list goes on. This doesn’t mean that old properties are bad properties. They sometimes require more care, upgrading, and safety precautions. There’s nothing like a character home and its charm; they’re usually located in beautiful tree-lined neighbourhoods, but buyer beware. Make sure you have an agent who understands old homes, ask about any upgrades done to the home, and hire a good home inspector.
The state of the home and how it was kept, is a good indicator of how well it was cared for by its current owners. A good home owner takes the time to keep their home clean in all areas, so watch for dust bunnies coming out of the vents, under appliances, grime in the kitchens and bathrooms and signs outside of the home like full eavestroughs, or unkempt exterior siding. Keeping home clean is part of a preventative maintenance measure taken to keep damage and deterioration from occurring to the components of the home. It also saves you some cash; you won’t have to pay a cleaner when you move in and there will be less work to do overall.
If this home isn’t your forever home, it’s not a bad idea to consider re-sale and the factors that contribute to what makes a home a good contender for a quick and easy resale. The homes that sell the fastest and at the highest price usually all have the same qualities. Consider these items when you think about re-sale: Location, curb appeal, proximity to parks and green space, schools and amenities, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, layout or any “unique” features.