Watch for These Open House Red Flags

How fast can you pick out signs of deferred maintenance in a listing? Realtor.com® recently spotlighted several red flags to watch for at an open house.

Intense scents.

The stronger the air freshener, the more likely the seller is trying to mask an offensive odor, warns Denise Supplee, a real estate professional with Long and Foster Real Estate in Doylestown, Pa. “When there’s too much going on in the scent department—plug-ins, wax warmers, and candles, for example—I wonder what that overkill is hiding,” she says. Your nose should alert your eyes to look for signs of mildew, smoke, or pet accidents.

Uneven flooring.

Examine the tile in kitchens and bathrooms closely. “If the gaps or tiles are slightly uneven, it may indicate a DIY job, which will make me think twice, especially if I know this house was flipped,” says real estate investor Eugene Gamble, owner of WeFundYourFlips in Tampa, Fla.

Foundation issues.

It’s not uncommon—or particularly alarming—to see hairline cracks in a foundation, but beware of any large gaps, Gamble says. Other potential signs of a foundation issue are sticking doors or windows, visible cracks around window frames, and uneven floors.

Chores undone.

“When I walk through a home, I look for signs that the owner might have neglected routine home maintenance,” says real estate pro Malcolm Lawson with Keller Williams Select REALTORS® in Annapolis, Md. This might be anything from burned-out lightbulbs to uncut grass outside to leaky faucets.

Mold.

Real estate broker Frank Kirschner in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. suggests opening bathroom and sink cabinets to check around water pipes or drains. Also, check caulking around faucets and tubs for black spots. Look for any patches on the ceiling as well.

Source: “Open House Red Flags: 10 Things to Look for When Buying a Home,” realtor.com® (April 11, 2017)