Red Flags When Looking at A Home

Distressed Property

You want to buy your first property, and you’re excited about becoming a homeowner, but don’t be overexcited; you’re not quite there yet. When looking at homes and searching for the right property, take your time to avoid disappointments, make sure to get home inspectors for home inspections and get value for your investment. 

Sometimes, what you see is not what you get. A property could have issues you might not notice without a keen eye. Look for the obvious signs like water damage on ceilings, water stains on the basement floor and around the foundation walls, and poor drainage around the homes exterior. These are just a few red flags.

The truth in real estate is home hunting is more than just looking at the hardwood floors and stainless steel appliances. In this market you may not get the help you need from an inspector. Choose your realtor well and try get someone you know has a keen eye to go with you for showings. 

When you go house hunting, you should familiarize yourself with some potential red flags to look for when buying. This post will help you identify red flags to watch for when looking at properties.  

Foundation Cracks

Foundation Cracks

Glaring red flags to watch for such as cracks on the foundation or cracks on a brick wall are pretty easy to catch..

All poured concrete and block foundations will crack at some point, but giving them a closer look is essential, so there are no surprises once you own it.

While hairline cracks might not be pointing to a bigger problem, a harder look is definitely recommended. Look for signs of deflection where one side is pushed out farther than the other side or signs of a past repair that has re-opened.

Fresh paint on the wall

Buying a home is an exciting adventure. It is nearly impossible not to get caught up in the hype and even fall for some hidden defects that were painted over. Who wouldn’t want a freshly painted home, especially if it’s a new trendy colour or perhaps it’s one of your favourites. 

However, new paint can hide significant mould, mildew or signs of repeated water damage and water stains. Pay attention to odd odours or signs of swelling on the baseboards. It’s always a good idea to involve a professional home inspector when looking at homes. Check out our blog post about how to survive home inspections to learn more.

Suspiciously lowering prices

The real estate listings tell many things. We all want a good deal; however, when homes don’t sell right away in today’s market, and you see repeated price changes up or down. It’s time to dig in and find out why.

Ask your realtor about the history of the property and any upgrades that have been done. 

Mass exodus from the neighbourhood

You may come across your dream home that appeals to you from all angles, whether it’s the kitchen cabinets or the expansive main bedroom. But don’t let a beautiful home prevent you from checking out the neighbourhood. 

Take your time and find out what’s happening in the area; you might even want to stop and talk to the people living next door. Take a drive around the immediate area and see how the neighbours care for their homes. When you see lots of for-sale signs coming and going, and the neighbourhood appears to be turning over quickly, it’s worth asking why.

Saggy ceiling

A ceiling with a sag might indicate some poorly done Renos. It could be that a wall was removed that was structural. It wouldn’t be the first time someone tried to open-concept a home that wasn’t designed that way. 

When you see older homes with a bowed ceiling, but the floor isn’t or vice versa, it’s time to get some professional input.

Have Questions?

The home buying process can be confusing and stressful, but we’re here to help! 

Outdated roofs

Don’t get too wowed by the finish inside. Before you head in and see all of  that new vinyl plank flooring and appliances, take a walk around outside.  Most of that shiny stuff can be added into any home for half the cost of a new roof. Remember that you’re going to need cash left over after your down payment to fix things like shingles, furnaces, air conditioners and other deferred maintenance issues.


Don’t jump at the first home you see and look past all the shiny stuff; it might be all done to distract you from some costly issues.

Have any questions?​

The home buying process can be confusing and stressful, but we’re here to help! 

Contact us if you need any support throughout the home buying process, we’re a hands-on, full-service realty team for Carleton Place and West Ottawa area. This checklist is a great foundation, but nothing can replace an experienced realtor.