Jeff Duncan Real Estate
Jeff Duncan
(360) 441-2121(360) 441-2121

Don’t Buy That House!

When you fall in love with a house, it’s a lot like falling in love with a person- It’s almost impossible to see any flaws! When most everything seems perfect, it’s easy to be in denial about the possibility that there may be problems.

Down the road, when the initial infatuation wears off, the negative aspects become more apparent. By then, though, it’s difficult or impossible to reverse any decisions you’ve made. This is why it’s important to keep emotions out of the home-buying process. Yes, it’s difficult, but it’s also imperative that you do so.

Although there are many red flags to look for when touring a home, let’s take a look at the top three that should make you reconsider submitting an offer without a contingency for further inspection.

Sloppy Maintenance

So, the gutters are full and weeds are sprouting out of them. Maybe the homeowner is a busy person and hasn’t had a chance to clean them. If this sounds like something you might think, adjust your expectations. If the homeowner isn’t performing routine maintenance, what else might be wrong with the home?

Look for the following telltale signs of sloppy home maintenance and neglect:

Peeling paint and cracks in plaster.

Missing roof shingles or signs of roof wear.

“Spongy” feel to the floors around toilets and bathtubs.

Cracked windows.

Ceiling stains.

Of course these aren’t the only signs of deferred maintenance, but, if present, they should set off alarms and prompt you to place a call to the appropriate contractor for an inspection.

Foundation Problems

If the yard is sloped toward the house instead of away from it, there could be a water intrusion problem, which is pricey to repair.

Since most foundation problems are caused by water, this is a condition that the homeowner should remedy, or pay to have remedied, before you purchase the home.

Check the foundation for cracks larger than 1/3 inch. Determine if the floors slope. While this may be normal in a historic home, in a modern home it may be a sign of a defective foundation. One other sign of foundation problems are horizontal cracks or jagged cracks that run diagonally across a wall.

Foundation repairs can get very expensive, depending on how extensive they are. That’s a huge amount of money for a homebuyer who just had to shell out tens of thousands of dollars for a down payment and closing costs, so if anything looks unusual, and you love the house, call an engineer for a professional inspection.

A Declining Neighborhood

When one home in a neighborhood goes on the market, more will follow. But, if you notice more than two or three homes for sale in a neighborhood, start asking questions.

In a recovering housing market it’s normal for homeowners who have been sitting on the sidelines to jump into the market. In a normal market, however, when many homes in a neighborhood are up for sale, it’s time to do some investigating.

There are various reasons that homeowners may decide to leave a neighborhood en masse.  For example, the relocation of a sex offender to the neighborhood not only causes families to flee, but also causes home values to drop. Other causes of neighborhood decline include:

An increase in crime.

Urban decay.

New zoning restrictions.

Businesses fleeing the area.


Bad (noisy, messy, etc.) neighbors.

Red flags need not kill a real estate deal, but they should let you know that something isn’t right and needs inspection by a professional. Talk to your buyer’s agent about any of these concerns. They’ll be able to help you discover what’s really going on and avoid getting stuck in a bad situation.


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