How to Find the Red Flags in a Home for Sale

Posted by on Wednesday, September 4th, 2019 at 1:05pm.

Getting a home inspection on a previously-owned property is a necessity and should not be viewed as only an option. Approximately 40% of the listings on the market have a defect that could be serious. In some cases these defects can be easily rectified and at other times a substantial investment will be required to fix them up.

The Importance of Inspections to Detect Home-Buying Red Flags

Just think of what you would do if you were going to buy a used car from somebody on Kijiji. You would get a mechanic to check it out thoroughly before handing over any money. If not, any problems that come up will be yours to deal with. The same goes for a house.

A home inspection puts you in the driver's seat so that you have control over your purchase. You'll know exactly what you're getting into from the get-go. An inspection gives you the confidence to move forward with the sale or to back off from it completely.

Common Defects to View as Red Flags

According to one of the major Canadian home inspection companies in Canada and the US, Housemaster, there are certain home defects that should raise a red flag. Some of these issues include:

  • Aluminum wiring
  • Basement moisture
  • Roofing defects
  • Problems with a compressor in the air-conditioning unit
  • Insect infestations - especially carpenter ants or termites
  • Hazards such as water contamination, radon and asbestos
  • The house has settled significantly
  • Certain electrical and plumbing problems
  • Horizontal cracks along the foundation

Whenever you enter into a negotiation to purchase a new home, a provision should be added to the contract allowing you to back out or renegotiate if major problems are found with the home inspection. This way, you'll have nothing to lose by submitting an offer to purchase quickly when you have found the perfect home.

What To Do If You Find a Red Flag

The first step should be to make sure there is a contingency clause in your offer to cover inspections. That way, if any deal-breakers are uncovered, you are free to back out of the deal. Once issues have been discovered during an inspection, you have a few options: ask the seller to fix the problem, ask the seller to reduce the price to accommodate repairs, accept the problem as-is, or walk away. Some issues, such as a damaged foundation or mold remediation, may be too overwhelming or you may not have time to wait for a major repair. Others may be minor, such as building code violations for GFCI outlets that are easily replaced. Accepting small problems as-is may be a consideration in a seller's market; negotiating for a lower price or requiring repairs may be the better option when buyers are scarce. 

Contact a Real Estate Professional Today

Real estate agents provide insider knowledge and experience in spotting and addressing common red flags and warning signs when buying a home. Work with a licensed real estate agent when buying a home and gain peace of mind as that agent helps you navigate the real estate market to find your next home.

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