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  • Writer's pictureRachel Barrasso

Real Estate Red Flags


Walking through a house for the first time can be so exciting! There is so much to see and take in. And, while you might be admiring the new quartz countertops or the sparkling pool, your agent (me!) will be looking for potential red flags. Here are some things to look out for.

  • Water stains. Water stains can signal water damage or intrusion of some kind. If you're seeing water stains on the ceiling, you would want to take a careful look at the roof. If you see water stains on the floor or baseboards, you'd want to check for evidence of previous flooding or plumbing leaks. Don't forget to check under sinks and around other plumbing fixtures for evidence of leaks there!

  • Peeling fascia paint. This can be a sign of deferred maintenance on the home. In order to get certain types of loans, your lender may require that the fascia boards are repaired and sealed or repainted. This could present an issue if the seller is not willing to address this. It could also be a sign of inadequate drainage from the roof or wood rot.

  • The house is on a main road. This may not be such a big issue in bigger cities (who wouldn't want to live right on Park Avenue??) but here in Tucson, it could make a property less desirable. Of course if the road noise doesn't bother you, you could find a great home for a low price, but you may have trouble when you're ready to sell. Most buyers would rather have more privacy and less street noise.

  • Cracks in the foundation. Cracks in the foundation or even the walls and ceilings are really common and can be referred to as "settling cracks". Most of the time, these are no problem and are nothing more than a cosmetic issue. However, it's always a good idea to have these kinds of things looked at by a professional. They can tell you for sure if your crack is just an eyesore or a potential money pit!

  • The house has come back on the market multiple times. Home sales fall through all time time, and many times it is due to reasons beyond the seller's control. The buyer may have had cold feet, or maybe their financing fell through. But, if you see a house that has fallen out of contract multiple times, you may want to look into that further. The listing agent doesn't necessarily need to disclose why the sale fell through before, but if there is any material defect to the home (maybe something that came up during the inspection), that is something they must disclose! Read through the Seller's Disclosure carefully as well as the insurance history report! And, if you do choose to make an offer on that house, definitely don't skip the inspection!

  • The house is full of DIY. In the age of HGTV and TikTok fixer upper videos, we all want our house to look incredible. And, a lot of us think we can figure out how to do it by watching a YouTube video and heading over to Lowe's. But, if the house you love is full of homeowner DIY projects, just know you may be in for some remedial work. Owners attempting to do complicated things like plumbing and electrical may have made mistakes that were costly and downright dangerous! Beware!

While this is certainly not a complete list of red flags that agents might notice during a home tour, they are some of the more obvious and common ones. While your agent may be great at spotting some of these things, you definitely still want to have a home inspection! And, just because a house has some projects awaiting you at closing, don't necessarily give up! I'm a sucker for a great house that needs a little love, and if you have the patience, and, let's face it, money, to do some maintenance and repairs, you could find a great home! The bottom line is, use the inspection period to learn everything you can about the home you're buying and what you're getting into. That way you will be up for the task at hand. Good luck!


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