Red Flags to Watch Out for When Buying a Secondhand Property

As house prices continue to soar, buying pre-owned houses has become a more viable option for more Americans. The National Association of Realtors reported that in December 2019, sales of previously owned homes jumped by 3.6 percent. The NAR predicts that in 2020, the average cost of a new house will be $313,000, while the average price of an existing house will be $270,000.

Cheaper prices may drive aspiring homeowners to consider pre-owned houses, but saving money shouldn’t be the only factor in the buying decision. The quality of the property should carry just as much, if not more, weight.

Ask these questions to your real estate agent: How old is the house? What repairs had been done to the house before? Who lived in the house before it went to the market?

The following are red flags aspiring homeowners might miss in their property hunt.

Cosmetic enhancements

Walls may be repainted to give them a fresh look. However, don’t be fooled easily because sellers might use this as a workaround to conceal underlying problems. For example, a paint job might be used to hide potential deal-breakers, like a patch of mold.

Mold spores are usually harmless when they grow in small amounts. However, once they land on damp spots, they can start to grow and spread to other areas of the house. Mold spores can cause allergic reactions like sneezing, runny nose and skin rashes. People with more serious mold allergies can have more severe reactions like shortness of breath.

Air fresheners

Air fresheners may be used to mask odors sellers don’t want you to smell. Stinky houses are often sprayed with smell enhancers or adorned with scented candles. As a buyer, it’s your mission to find out whether there’s an insidious odor coming from somewhere inside the house. It can be a leaking gas pipe, a growing mold or a burst sewerage pipe.

If you smell a rotten egg-like odor, the house may be having a gas leak. If left unnoticed, it can cause a fire or an explosion. If the house smells like a waste treatment plant, it probably has a burst sewerage pipe. Toxic chemicals such as hydrogen sulfide and methane can emanate around the house. Exposure to hydrogen sulfide can cause eye irritation while methane inhalation can lead to asphyxiation.

secondhand property

Hairline cracks on the walls

Everything else in the house relies on its foundation. A poor foundation can lead to faster deterioration. If left untreated, simple hairline cracks can develop into something major in the future. Trying to fix it, on the other hand, can cost you up to $4,200.

Here are other signs of foundation problems to keep an eye out for:

  • Doors and windows that stick when you try to close or open them
  • Sagging crawl space floors
  • Bowing basement walls
  • Sinking front porch
  • Leaning chimneys

Got these addressed? You are now ready to buy your coveted pre-owned house. After making the purchase, you can now start the fun part: designing it. If you want the house to scream your name and personality, talk to designers from for ideas and inspiration.

Each time you visit a pre-owned property, put your inspector’s hat on. A good disclosure statement will highlight all the property’s existing flaws. But companies want to sell, so they might leave some lingering issues out. You should make it your mission to unravel hidden problems and use them to your advantage in your negotiation.

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