6 warning signs to look out for when buying a home (especially if it’s older)

May 16, 2017

Things to look out for when buying a home


Buying a home will be one of the biggest financial decisions you’ll ever make in your life. For most people, it means paying off a mortgage for most of their adult lives!

That’s why it’s imperative you let your head lead you in this decision, rather than your heart. While a house may hit all the boxes on your dream list (floor-to-ceiling windows anyone?), if you encounter any of these warning signs during your home inspection, we recommend that you walk away. Fast. Otherwise, you might find yourself stuck in a financial sinkhole that’ll take you an eternity to get out of.

Protip: While you can do the inspections yourself, consider hiring a contractor or getting a knowledgeable friend to help!


#1  Leaky or damaged roof (or ceiling)

Besides walls, the roof (or ceiling) of a home is inarguably one of its most integral aspects – they’re also extremely expensive to repair or replace.  

Make sure you inspect the roof (or ceiling) of the house very carefully for any signs of damage, water stains, rust, leaks or missing or cracked tiles. Sagging or undulations in the roofline can also signal structural issues in the frame of the roof.

If you spot any of these problems, you should either walk away entirely, or factor the cost of repair when negotiating with the seller on price.


#2  Poor plumbing

While a home’s pipes are generally too well-hidden for a close inspection, there are other means to checking on the state of its plumbing system.

Run all the taps in the house, and flush the toilets as well, to check that the water drains properly and that the water pressure is satisfactory. You can also hire a plumber to conduct a closer inspection, to make sure there aren’t any cracks or breakage in the sewer pipes as well.

Again, if there are leaks or damaged pipes, be sure to get a reduction in the asking price, failing which, you might want to consider other options.


#3  Mould

Besides being unsightly, mould can cause all kinds of health issues for you and your family.

Check the walls thoroughly for mould, especially in the bathroom, kitchen and basement where ventilation is poor. Be sure to look behind furniture or under any rugs or mats, just in case they’ve been used to cover any problem areas!


#4  Cracks along walls

While minor cracks are to be expected in any home, if you see gaping cracks, separation or horizontal crack lines, these may be signs of a far more serious issue.

Horizontal or 45-degree cracks, for example, might be indicative of severe foundation shifting or water damage.

If you notice a lot of cracks in the home, you should probably hire a professional to come in to definitively determine the exact cause, and if major repair work would be needed.


#5  Sporadic fresh paint or weird smells

If you notice sporadic patches of fresh paint around the house (or maybe fresh paint on just one wall!), we recommend erring on the side of caution.

These can indicate an attempt by the seller to cover signs of water damage or nasty mould.

Besides paint, a dank smell in the air can also signal hidden mould or ventilation issues that you should definitely get checked out.


#6  Overly impatient seller  

While a motivated seller is definitely a plus, beware of a seller that seems especially impatient or pushy.

If they demand a good faith deposit or try to rush you into making an offer, it might be best to back away from the situation.

Besides being a warning sign of the seller trying to hide something about the house, an impatient or unreasonable seller can be a nightmare to deal with throughout a sales process. You’ll have enough stress dealing with paperwork and finances without adding a difficult seller into the equation!


Were there any issues you overlooked that came back to haunt you later? Tell us more in the comments below!

You Might Also Like

No Comments

Leave a Reply