10 Warning Signs To Look Out For When Buying A Property

Once you’ve started looking at homes, it can be difficult to know which homes are worth your time and money. While home inspections are a must before closing on a property, you don’t want to hire an inspection for every property you visit. You’ll want to narrow down your options so you can spend your money on inspecting a property only if it is likely to be worth the cost. We’ve put together a list of 10 things to look out for when buying a house so that you can be sure that you’re spending your time, energy, and money on a worthwhile property.

things to check before buying a house

1. Check The Plumbing

You don’t have to be an expert to check for obvious warning signs in plumbing. Plumbing is one of those things that when something small goes wrong, it can snowball into a huge repair bill. Start by checking the water pressure in all the faucets, both inside and outside the home. Check that the water turns off completely and there are no leaks. Take note of how the water drains, too – a glugging sound, air bubbles, or slow drainage could be a sign of an improperly ventilated or clogged system.
Check The Appliances

2. Make Sure All Appliances Work

This is of course for any appliances you plan to keep in the home, such as dishwashers, refrigerators, etc. Check each one to make sure that it works properly, and inquire with the seller or real estate agent about their age. Every appliance has an approximate expected lifetime, and you may need to budget for a replacement in the near future if one or more of the existing appliances is approaching the end of its useful lifetime.
things to look for when buying a home

3. Check All The Outlets

Bring a phone charger with you when you view the home, and plug it in to each outlet to check its functionality. Check for any brown marks on the outlets too – these could be a sign of shoddy wiring and pose a serious safety hazard. Turn all lights on and off to make sure they are all functioning as they should.
Be Aware of Odd Smells

4. Be Aware Of Any Odd Smell

Odd smells can be a sign of many problems, from mold to a rodent infestation. Take a good whiff of each room, and be mindful of any attempts to mask smells such as scented candles or potpourri. Take a moment to open kitchen and bathroom cabinets to check for any musty smell – this could be a sign of a leak. On the other hand, ammonia-like smells can be a sign of pet urine that has seeped into and ruined the carpet. Any smell you can’t quite put your finger on should be a red flag, and if you do decide to proceed to an inspection make sure to point it out to your home inspector.
Signs of damage

5. Be Wary Of Signs Of Damage To The Frame

This may seem like something best left to the professionals, but spotting glaring issues with the foundation and flooring can be done with relative ease. Problems with the foundation can often arise when the house has settled improperly, and can mean a costly repair down the line. Look for any signs of bowing of the floor or cracks in the walls (or signs that they have been hastily patched up). A coat of new paint only in one specific area can be a telltale sign. We also recommend taking a marble with you when viewing the home and setting it down in various locations in each room – the marble rolling towards one corner is an easy indicator that the house has settled improperly, and can mean a costly repair in the future.
Signs of Pests

6. Keep An Eye Out For Signs Of Pests

Pests can leave many signs behind, even if the seller has tried to hide them. A musty smell accompanied by small reddish-brown streaks around water sources are a clear sign of a cockroach infestation. Nibbled cables and small droppings in corners are a dead giveaway of a mouse problem. Mounds in the yard could indicate an infestation of fire ants. If anything looks (or smells) off, make sure to take it up with the agent, and specifically request an inspector to investigate if you choose to continue with the buying process.
Check the roof

7. Take A Look At The Roof

Roof issues can be costly, and keeping an eye out for obvious signs of damage or disrepair can save you thousands down the line. Have a look at the roof from the outside and take note of any signs of bowing or caving – this is a definite sign of a costly fix to come. Any missing or misaligned shingles can also lead to problems with leaking and cause further damage to the roof, so make sure to take note of these as well. From the inside, request to look at the attic to see that the insulation looks to be in good condition and complete.
Check the guttering

8. Check The Condition And Functionality Of The Guttering

Have a look at the guttering for any signs of deterioration as a result of rust, or signs of general neglect. Follow the guttering to the down pipes and make sure they drain rainwater away from the property properly. Any signs of previous flooding of the area will be easy to spot, as outside water damage cannot be covered up with a fresh coat of paint as easily.
Check the windows and doors

9. Open Windows And Doors

Check that all windows and doors open and close smoothly and completely. If there is any warping of the window frame (in the case of wooden frames) it can be a sign of a leak. For metal frames, check for any signs of rust that may have been painted over in an attempt to hide the problem.
Make sure everything is up to code

10. Make Sure Everything Is Up To Code

If any additions or major alterations have been made to the property, such as a new deck, request to see the permits. These permits are formally known as a Report of Residential Building Record, and any major addition to the property should be documented in the report. If anything is missing, there is a good chance that it was not built up to code and could pose a safety hazard.