Open House Red Flags
When you’re on the hunt for your next home (or your first home), you’ll probably find yourself at a few open houses. Photos do a good job at depicting a house in the most eye-catching and marketable way, so open houses are the chance to see the home in “real life.” It gives you a chance to walk the property and picture your family eating in the kitchen.
During this walk through, keep an eye out for these red flags. They may not be deal-breakers, but they’re definitely useful signs to consider and investigate. This is especially the case if you’re interested in purchasing the house.
6 Big Red Flags
Perhaps the homeowner really did just want to make the kitchen smell like cookies or play soft jazz in the background during the open house. Regardless, take note of these red flags and check back with your real estate agent or (if you’re really in love with the home) consider hiring an inspector.
Overwhelming and Competing Scents
This is probably the most well-known red flag in the open house world. There’s nothing wrong with a candle, but when they’ve got a candle lit in every room or multiple Febreeze plug-ins shoving their sweet aroma in the air…you should stop and ask yourself what the homeowners might be trying to hide.
Music can mask unwanted, outside disturbances. If the house is close to a major road or the neighbor’s dog is constantly barking, the homeowner may have turned up the volume to tune out the other sounds. (Of course, there’s not much you can do about other people’s pets, but don’t forget that when you buy a house, you also buy the neighbors.)
The Whole Neighborhood’s for Sale
Speaking of your neighbors, take a look at the surrounding houses. If there are for sale signs on a bunch of properties, ask about potential reasons for the mass exodus. Maybe it’s an HOA issue, maybe there’s a military base nearby and families are being relocated, or maybe it’s just a coincidence. Whatever the cause, it doesn’t hurt to ask.
If you walk into the open house and all the nights in the home are turned on, take a second to look around for sources of natural light. The way the home is positioned, the location of the house and windows, and the shrubbery around the property will influence the amount of natural light. A good way to assess whether there’s enough natural light for you is to ask the realtor to turn the lights off.
Freshly Painted Walls
Recent updates aren’t a bad thing, but they’re definitely worth hiring an inspector for if you’re considering purchasing the property. Freshly painted walls could simply be a change in color or they could be hiding water damage or mold.
Are the bushes eating their way into the sidewalk? Is there debris strewn across the yard and the gutters are filled with leaves? Or does the yard look taken care of, the lawn cut, and the shrubbery trimmed? The way a homeowner treats the outside of their house may be a good indication of what’s on the inside, such as routine maintenance treatments or getting larger issues fixed (like mold or water damage).