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Red Flags to Look For When House Hunting in New Neighborhoods

Posted: January 21, 2015

Imagine this: There’s this beautiful home that’s just the right size, has the perfect yard, and everything you could ever want structurally in a home. The only downfalls are there is a ton of costly maintenance that needs to be done, and the neighborhood leaves something to be desired. What’s worse? This happens all the time. When folks fall in love with a seemingly perfect home, they often forget to look out for “red flags” like poor wiring, mold, or excessive noise. Here are some red flags to look out for when house hunting:

Odd Walls

Like most folks, you’ll want to see freshly painted walls inside your new home. But could that new layer of paint be covering something up? Could it possibly be mold, water damage, or mildew?  Be sure to scan every wall in the house for telltale signs like sagging walls or ceilings; or funky smells, or stains. You should also be mindful of one individual wall with a fresh coat of paint. If you find this, immediately ask why! It may be there just to cover up a previously bold color, but it could also be covering up something undesirable.

Strange Smells

We all know a bad smell when we come across one. If you walk into a foul or strange smell while touring a house, it’s important to find the source of it immediately. You can talk with the homeowners or the real estate agent about what the smell is and where it’s coming from. If they sidestep the question or don’t know the answer, this is definitely a red flag. Strange smells often mean there’s something amiss inside the walls, such as poor drainage or something else.

Lots of Police Patrol

It’s always good to have extra protection around when you need it, but if you’re noticing quite a high number of police officers and patrol cars in the neighborhood, it may be cause for concern. After all, police departments assign officers to patrol where they are needed most. If there are many patrol cars in the area of your potential home, it may be due to a higher than normal crime rate.

Loud Neighbors

Sometimes loud neighbors mean more than the occasional burst of volume through the windows. Depending on your neighbors’ personalities and work/school schedule, you may be in for a long haul of late-night partying or random guests coming and going near your home.  If you have small children with a strict bedtime, or perhaps you’re the type of person who prefers peace and quiet, don’t be afraid to ask other residents about the folks you’ll be residing next to.

Poor Town and Road Conditions

Drive through the town for a bit and pay attention to the condition of the roads and town buildings. If you notice several potholes and worn-down buildings, it may be a sign that the city isn’t tending to conditions properly. Other things to look for are town landscaping (are there city-planted trees that are being well taken care of?), government building conditions, and, if you’re looking during the winter, how quickly and efficiently snow gets cleared off of the roads.

Other Homes for Sale

The location appears nice, the house is in good condition, but you might ask yourself “what’s with all the ’For Sale’ signs in town?” If there are several homes for sale in the area, it could be the sign of an undesirable neighborhood. And, even if everything appears just fine, it can sometimes take a while to really understand a town. Take a look at how current residents take to the city. If it seems like a lot of residents are looking to move, there must be a reason why.  Something is either causing them to leave, or simply enough, nothing is giving them a real reason to stay. Before you make the big decision to move into a home you love, make sure you share a similar affinity for the location it’s in. There’s no lifting up your home once you get sick and tired of a neighborhood; and there’s certainly no easy way to just sell your home once you’re dissatisfied. Take your time and do all of your homework!