Everyone has that certain deal breaker that shuts down a date, a business deal, or a major purchase faster than you can say, “Thank you, next.” House hunting is no different. There are several red flags you should be on the lookout for when searching for your next home. They’re cues that you should either walk away or do some major negotiating and prepare to deal with a hassle. Unless we’re getting a major, can’t-pass-it-up deal on the home, we prefer to chalk the following up as deal breakers and call it a day.
Purchasing a home in the Lowcountry can come with a threat of flooding. It’s the risk you take on when you buy a home on or near the water. Most real estate agents will be sure to make notes in the listing information if a home is in a flood zone, but double check for yourself at the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s flood map database. You might find yourself paying a hefty premium for flood insurance, which will usually be a requirement if the house is located in a flood plain, not to mention the turmoil of dealing with cleanup and repairs after a flood happens.
Suspicious Odors or Stains
If the first thing you notice when you walk into a house is a foul odor, consider it a huge red flag. A strong pet or cigarette smell might not indicate that there’s something wrong with the house, but it might mean you’ll spend a lot of time and money trying to get rid of the odor. If you get a whiff of a mildewy smell, you should absolutely have a professional take a closer look. Check for water stains on ceilings or around baseboards. Even if there’s not currently a leak in the house, water damage from previous issues could have caused mold or mildew growth.
An Old Heating System
Depending on how well it’s been maintained and the quality of the unit, the average lifespan of a heating system is 15 to 20 years. Ask the owner or real estate agent how old the current system is and inspect it for yourself. Some warning signs are strange noises like banging, grinding or squealing; moisture, cracks, or corrosion on or around the unit; inconsistent temperature; and unreasonable fluctuations in utility bills.
Undisclosed Structural Issues
The law requires home sellers to disclose any and all known structural issues. Unfortunately, there are some not-so-honest sellers out there who might omit certain known issues and claim ignorance when they pop up on the inspection report. If your home inspector does find one or more big issues that weren’t previously disclosed by the seller, consider it a major red flag. If the seller failed to report an obvious and major structural problem, what else have they not told you about the house?
An Overpriced Property
Even if the property you’re considering making an offer on has a price that fits your budget, it’s important to ask your Realtor® about the home’s fair market value. No matter how much you fall in love with a certain home, paying more than it’s worth isn’t the smartest move. If the seller insists that the home is worth more than its fair market value and refuses to budge on the listing price, it’s time to walk away.
Below Average School District
Unless you work in the school system or have other means of choosing where your children go to school, a bad school district should be a big-time deal breaker. Finding this information will be up to you as the buyer since agents aren’t supposed to give this sort of information out. They can direct you to websites that will tell you all about school performance, but other than that, you’ll have to do your own research and talk to neighbors. Even if you don’t have children and don’t plan to in the future, be aware that the school district your neighborhood is in can have an impact on the resale value of your home in the future.
A Floor Plan That Doesn’t Work for You
Unless you’re willing to take on a major construction project and invest even more money in a house, consider a floor plan that doesn’t work for you and your family a deal breaker. It’s perfectly fine to look past pretty much any cosmetic issues a house may have, but you should definitely be pickier when it comes to the bones of the house. Your ideal home should have the right number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and enough square footage to fit your family.