Safety and Sanitation: Red Flags to be Aware of When Buying a Home

Couple hugging behind a for sale sign in a yardThe process of house hunting for the first time is exciting – the possibility of finding a dream house with all the bells and whistles your family desires, or as an investment into your future. To ensure that a dream property does not quickly spiral into a nightmare, prospective buyers must be aware of potential red flags when house hunting. These issues may not only impact the safety and sanitation of a home, but ultimately the bottom line. Below are some red flags to keep in mind during the process.

If there have been additions to the house that just don’t look right, there’s a possibility the property may not be up to code. Right away, that signals an investment to bring the entire property up to code. Buyers should ask the seller if work was done with or without a permit

Decks on a house may pose a safety concern if they look unstable, were completed years ago, or were built without a permit. A freestanding deck will be a challenge to fix, so the buyer would likely have to completely rip it down and rebuild it.

Obvious structural problems are a huge red flag. This includes doors and windows that do not function properly, cracks on the outside of the house, and a foundation that feels unstable or is leaning in an unnatural way. Foundation issues are one of the most expensive fixes to a property.

Water damage is another issue most new buyers don’t want to deal with. When walking through the house, confirm with the agent that water is draining away from the house and not in the basement. Moisture or visible water stains in the basement may mean drainage issues. Water damage can lead to foundation problems. Clarify whether the house has ever been flooded if it is located in a flood zone.

Exposed electrical wires or oddities with lighting may point to faulty electrical work or old wiring. Knob and tube wiring in older homes may be very expensive to replace.

Asbestos and mold is another issue that can be a hazardous. A thorough home inspection should be completed before the purchase of a property. An inspection will reveal if any of the above issues are a major safety, health, or financial concern for the buyer.