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10 Home-Buyer Red Flags

10 Home-Buyer Red Flags | Looking for a home can be very stressful. From working with a realtor, to applying for a mortgage, to paying for an inspection. Professional inspections can be pricey so paying for multiple is not ideal. 

So before you hire a professional, do your own thorough inspection. Bring a flashlight, take pictures to document any areas of concern, and ask questions. Below are 10 major red flags to look for when viewing a property. If the property has major issues you may want to avoid making the investment.  

Basements, attics and bathrooms are the most common areas for mold growth. 

  • Basement: Check the rafters for growth and/or water stains, check the walls and the corners. 
  • Attic: Check the rafters and sheeting for growth and/or water stains. 
  • Bathroom: Check under sink, around toilet, shower, and look at the ceiling. Also make sure there is good ventilation most importantly an exhaust fan.

Mold remediation is a major cost in which you or the seller with have to pay for.

Water damage can lead to mold issues thus costing you a lot for remediation. Therefore, look for the following: 

  • Water stains, paint peeling, and bubbling on ceilings and walls
  • Buckling of hardwood floors & curling of vinyl floors

*Look thoroughly in the basement, attic, bathrooms, and under kitchen sinks. 

** Look for oddly placed area rugs which may be hiding buckling floors. Also random areas of fresh paint that could be hiding water stains. 

3) Flood Zone

Find out if your potential home is in a flood zone. Head to Femas website to find out. 

In buying a home in a flood zone you will be required to get flood insurance. 

**Flood zone disclosure is NOT mandatory! Ask your real estate agent, insurance agent, or lender about the property’s flood status before closing.

4) Old Well and/or Septic


A property in a rural area may have a well and/or a septic system. 

There is additional fees for a home inspection when it comes to the well and septic. The inspector will test the well water, look at the age of the septic, and the distance of the septic to the well. 

FHA loans will not approve a mortgage for a homeowner if the septic is not at-least 50 ft from the well.

5) Faulty Plumbing

During your walk-through check all of the plumbing. 

  • Look for drips
  • Check for water stains
  • Flush the toilet
  • Test the shower 
  • Run the sink 

Make sure all the plumbing in the property works properly.


6) Basement Issues

Basements are the number one area in a home prone to having the most issues. 

  • Check for mold 
  • Look for water stains
  • Musty smells
  • Cracks, peeling walls, bulges in the foundation*


  • Was there a dehumidifier running?
  • Is there a sump pump? 
  • Has there been any flooding/water intrusion in the past?  

*Foundation issues can be very costly to fix, both exterior and interior work may me needed. 

7) Outdated Windows

Old windows can have many issues and affect the home. 

  • Not energy efficient 
  • Will not open
  • Not secure
  • Cracks/ or breaks 

8) Old - Non Functional Appliances


Many appliances are included in the purchase of a home. However, many may be outdated or not functional. 

Test all of the appliances:

  • Stove – check all the burners & the oven
  • Refrigerator – is it cold?, if there’s an ice machine does it work?
  • Dishwasher – check if it runs through a cycle and look for leaks
  • Washer and Dryer – turn them on, check for leaks, and look to see if the dryer is vented properly.

9) Faulty Outlets

Outlets are very important, they are needed for appliances and technology to operate. Therefore, you want to make sure they work properly. 

  • Test each outlet 
  • Make sure they are GFIs 
  • Look for dark/burn spots 

Also older homes may have very few outlets and are not GFIs.


10) Old HVAC System

An HVAC system has a lifespan of 15-20 years. However, old outdated systems may have a significantly less life span of about 10 years. 

Repairing an old HVAC system may not be worth the expense, there is no guarantee it will lengthen the life span of the system.

New high-efficiency units can save you up to 20 percent on costs. But buying a new system can be very pricey. 

Home-Buying Knowledge

Purchasing a home is a huge life decision. Therefore, it’s critical that when buying a home you are aware of what could be some major red flags. To avoid costly expenses ask questions to the seller, your realtor, and your lender about the property and the possible issues it may have. 

When you walk-through a property it is important that you know what to look for, the seller may not always be truthful and disclose certain information. This can help in making the decision to hire a professional home inspector.

If you do find mold or water contact a certified (or licensed, needed in some states) contractor to inspect and provide an estimate on the remediation. 

Good luck with the home buying process and remember these important home-buying red flags!

Service Area:

Broome County, Tioga County, Tompkins County, Cortland County, Susquehanna County, Lakawanna County, Chenango County and more!

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