10 Issues That Should Prevent You From Buying a House

Couple buying a house with a real estate agent.
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Buying a house is one of the most significant financial decisions you could ever make. The things that may make you love or hate a house vary from person to person.

However, some things are universal red flags when looking at a home. Don’t buy a house with any of the following ten problems.

Foundation Cracks

Cracks in the walls or ceilings might be cosmetic from the paint, but they could indicate a bigger problem. If there are cracks in the foundation, it can be a sign of something more severe than old paint. 

Cracks that are wider than one-third inch should be inspected since this can be a sign that the foundation is more seriously damaged.

Bulges in the foundation can also be a bad sign. Foundation failure can result from inadequate water draining systems or shifts in the ground itself.

Outdated Electrical

Outdated electrical systems can be a safety hazard. When you have an inspection done on the house, this will be something that the inspector will pay close attention to.

If they find that it had old wiring, it’s something that will need to be replaced immediately, but it can be expensive. Plus, outdated electrical systems can also be a problem for getting good homeowners’ insurance.

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“These aging systems may not comply with modern safety standards, potentially leading to electrical hazards such as fires or electrical shocks,” says Pete Evering, Utopia Property Management.

“Additionally, they often lack the capacity to handle the power demands of today’s households, resulting in frequent circuit overloads and disruptions.”

Evering went on to say, “addressing this issue isn’t as straightforward as it may seem. Rewiring an entire property can be a complex, time-consuming, and expensive endeavor.”

Water Stains

Water stains can indicate deeper water damage issues in the home. Water stains and water damage are tricky because you may not be able to determine the extent of the damage without removing walls or ceilings, which can be costly and complex.

Plus, you won’t be able to properly check for water damage until after you close on the house. You may not know the extent or cost of the damage until it’s too late to negotiate with the seller. 

“Water infiltration can lead to mold growth, which not only affects indoor air quality but can also damage the structural integrity of the house,” says Rick Gruebele, real estate broker at Visions First Realty, LLC.

“Be cautious of musty odors, discolored patches, or peeling paint, which could indicate hidden moisture issues.”

Moldy Smell

Like water stains, moldy smells in the home can be a sign of a more significant issue. Mold is often caused by leaks or floods and is usually hidden, meaning there can be no trace of it in smells or visually.

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However, when you smell mold in a home, you should proceed cautiously. Mold can cause respiratory problems and unsafe living conditions. Plus, once you know about mold in the home, you must disclose any mold issues during a future sale, making it difficult to resell the house.

But just remember that you can do a mold inspection before buying a home.

Lots of Houses for Sale in the Neighborhood

Too many other houses for sale in the neighborhood could be a bad sign. There are always legitimate reasons for this, like an aging or gentrifying neighborhood, but you should always research first.

Other possible explanations for multiple homes for sale in the same neighborhood could be increasing crime rates, issues with the HOA, or an overall less desirable neighborhood making it difficult to sell homes. 

Foggy Windows

Foggy windows may not necessarily be a deal-breaker but can indicate an expensive problem.

Dual-pane windows contain air or gas between the two panes. The panes are sealed shut to ensure that they are energy efficient. But as the windows age and deteriorate, moisture can creep in and cause the windows to become foggy. 

Fixing foggy windows can be expensive, or you may have to replace the entire window. Plus, the other windows in the home may experience the same thing as they age.

Professional window installers can help you determine what needs to be done and give you an estimate of cost. 

Mediocre Exterior Maintenance

Mediocre exterior maintenance could be a sign of poor home maintenance overall. Often, the way someone maintains the exterior of their home is the same way they maintain the interior of their home.

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Plus, the home’s exterior keeps the structure and safety of the house intact. A mediocre exterior may indicate that repairs are needed on the house.

Noticeable Pests or Insects

No one wants pests or insects in their home, but some cause more damage than others. Things like termites and carpenter ants can cause damage to the structure of your home, and it can be expensive and difficult to repair.

Even worse, many pests and insects are tough to eliminate once you have them.

Fresh Paint on a Single Wall

Many sellers paint their home to make it look better before putting it on the market. But if you only see fresh paint on a single wall, it could be a sign that the sellers are trying to cover something up, like mold or mildew. 

Standing Water in Lawn

If you see standing water in the lawn of a property, it could be caused by poorly draining soil or low spots in the yard. If the yard is not draining correctly, your home could have puddles or flooding.

Fixing this issue can be expensive, as you may need to relevel the ground, add drainage, or do other costly alterations to the yard. 

The Bottom Line

These issues may not make the home inhabitable, but they can be costly and annoying.

If you don’t love the home, you may want to walk away from the sale if you notice one or more of these problems. There will likely be other houses with fewer (or cheaper) problems.

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