March 3, 2023 Buying

Real Estate Red Flags: Watch for warning signs before signing the dotted line

By Kate Barker

Buying a house is often one of the biggest investments someone will make in their lifetime, yet people often spend more time considering a new car than a new home. So while you’re on your search, what are some red flags to watch out for?

Low Condo Fees

That sweet little condo has a swimming pool and a weight room. The price is just in your budget, but the condo fees are low so you can make it work, right? Maybe not. Why are those fees so low? Is the building being properly maintained? Is there enough in the reserve fund for upcoming major expenses? Are you going to get “cash calls” to cover issues as they arise? Before purchasing a condo, ask for the Status Certificate. For a small fee, you’ll learn about all the financial and legal aspects of the building before committing to it.


Street for Sale

Does it seem like everyone on the street is selling at the same time? Unless it’s a newly build community, if you see multiple for sale signs in the same area, there could be a reason. Talk to your real estate agent to see what’s going on. Are there known issues with this area? Did something bad happen? Is it noisy because it’s close to the highway or helipad? You’ll want to know what’s going on before you commit to buying into the area. 


Spotty Paint Jobs

While a fresh coat of paint is a great way to freshen up a space, be wary if the paint job is incomplete or spotty. Painting only one wall in a room or patches on a ceiling could be a sign the homeowners are trying to cover something up, and you’ll want to know what that something is. While a home inspection may catch the issues, ask your agent to dig into what’s going on with that wall, and why it’s the only one with a fresh coat of paint.


Strong Smells

Walking into a potential place, how does it smell? Is there a musty smell? Does it smell too good? Are there candles in every room and air fresheners in every plugin? That could indicate someone trying to cover a smell, which means there could be known issues. Before getting swept away with a sweet smelling candle, make sure it’s just staging, not covering up an issue.


Just because a house has some red flags doesn’t mean it’s not a great place to buy; it just means it’s worthwhile to do some more research before deciding to take the plunge on your next new home.

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