Top Red Flags When House Hunting

It is easy to get very excited when touring homes for sale. Especially when you find that one home that appears to be a perfect fit in many ways, you may get easily distracted by the beautiful kitchen, spacious living room or the inviting pool. However, it pays to do a second run through the home with somewhat of a discerning eye. Sure you will have a home inspection, but get a jump on the whole situation by paying close attention to these following items.

Strong scent

Doing a smell test is always a good idea. If there is too strong of a scent that the seller is trying to mask, then that can be a red flag. Candles in every room, plug in fragrances everywhere and the like can tip you off that perhaps they are trying to cover something up. Also do a smell test outside to see what may be going on in the neighborhood.


Inspect the tile work in kitchens and bathrooms. See if anything is uneven or looks to have been patched. Especially in bathrooms tiling that has been repaired may indicate there could have been plumbing issues to question. 

Foundation cracks

Most homes will inherently have these as things settle into place over time. However, there is a range that is normal for this. Check for severe cracks in the floors, foundation and even directly outside the home on abutting patios. Check to see if doors and windows open and close properly near these cracks so you know how extensive the issue is.

Deferred maintenance

Seeing a bunch of items neglected can suggest that there may be deferred maintenance on more important items. Check for things like faded paint, leaky faucets, unkempt landscaping and even the condition of an air filter.


Check the general condition of the windows. Are they old? High impact? Do they open and close properly or get stuck? Check for any bubbling paint near them too that may suggest leaks.

Water damage

Check for this visually and with scent. If it smells musty then that is a red flag. Otherwise look around for damaged paint, leak stains and even warped millwork on baseboards that could indicate there was water damage.

Cosmetic improvements

Question why one wall in a room may look more recently painted than the others. Perhaps there was a recent issue there. Also, it’s not a bad idea to lift up an area rug corner to see the condition of the floor underneath.

In the end your home inspector will catch most of this, but if there are several red flags then you may want to pass and move to the next home unless you are prepared to make significant improvements.