One of the most exciting phases of the Waterloo Region home-buying process is taking tours and looking at houses. However, it's simple to get carried away in the moment and ignore small details that can later cause problems.
You should be prepared to do your research before submitting an offer on a house, whether it be because of the neighborhood, a listing price that seems too good to be true, or a concern with the property's condition.
Keep these 10 potential red flags in mind while you look for your next Waterloo Region home to help you avoid overlooking something that could be an issue or significant expense in the near future.
The Listing is Light on Photographs
Seeing a listing with few (or no) images of the home's interior is a huge red flag. Instead, the listing might include additional images of the home's exterior or the neighbourhood to draw prospective buyers. Lack of interior images may be a sign that the house isn't in fantastic shape, since every home seller wants to showcase their property in the best possible way.
There is also the possibility however that the property was listed prior to photographs becoming available, although the majority of real estate agents prefer not to allow this to happen, for the very reasons we've listed above. The best course of action, if you are still interested in the home, is to ask your real estate agent if they can do a little more research on your behalf to discover just why the property was apparently not ready for its closeup before it hit the MLS.
The Asking Price Seems Too Good to Be True
It goes without saying that home pricing might be a deal-breaker when looking for a home. It's usually out of the question if it's out of your price range. However, if a house is listed for less than it is worth, there may be a problem with the house or the neighbourhood.
Be sure to ask your real estate agent for additional details about the home's pricing and their insights before getting overly enthusiastic about the prospect of a lower mortgage payment. You might discover unexpected issues, such as the need for a new roof or HVAC system for the house, or it may be that the homewowner has badly misjudged the pricing, which, if that is the case, is something to discuss with your own real estate agent before making an offer.
Note for Waterloo Region homesellers: Underpricing your home can be disastrous. Yes, the chances are good it will sell (fast) but you could be losing out on thousands of dollars. The best way to avoid pricing mistakes? Set your asking price with the help of an experienced local real estate agent who has the expert knowledge of current local market conditions needed to do so correctly.
The Home Has Been 'Returned to the Market'
A house could have been pulled off the market and then relisted for a variety of reasons, of course. It's possible that the previous buyer's financing fell through, or the contract may have fallen through because the seller and the buyer couldn't agree upon terms following the home inspection.
In any event, you ought to be wondering why the property was relisted. If it was previously listed for a while, why did it stay on the market for such a long time? What prevented buyers from putting in a bid? Did a significant problem surface during the home inspection if it was under contract? These are all things a diligent local real estate agent can find out for you, and you should be sure to ask them to do so.
It's a 'Flipped' Property
By no means should you run for the hills if a house was bought as a fixer-upper and then flipped. When looking for a Waterloo Region home, there are additional safety measures you should take if you come across a recently flipped house.
Make sure to find out more about the improvements made to the home. Did the plumbing, HVAC, or even the "bones" of the house receive any renovations in addition to the cosmetic ones? Verify that the sellers have permits for any major home upgrades, so you can be confident they were completed correctly and in accordance with regulations.
Odd Smells and Strange Noises
When house hunting, it’s important to pay close attention to the details. If you pick up on a funky smell, it may indicate that there’s mold, a plumbing issue, water damage, HVAC issues, or something else. And if there’s an overly-scented hallway or bedroom, such as too much air freshener, that could signal there’s an odor the seller is trying to mask. It could be cats, or it could be mould, only a little more research is likely to help you find out!
You should also listen out for strange sounds when touring Waterloo Region homes for sale, and this applies both in and outside of the property. The last thing you want is to move into your new home only to realize that there are issues with the furnace or roof, or that there are unpleasant sounds from nearby construction or train tracks.
Little Things Don't Work Properly
Be sure to check everything as you are house hunting. Do all the doors close properly? If not, this could indicate that there’s an issue with the foundation. Do all the light switches and outlets work? Are some of the lights flickering? Is the ceiling sagging or are there any odd black stains on the walls?
Of course, just because something in the home isn’t functioning properly or easily doesn’t indicate that there’s a major issue. But it’s better to be overly cautious and ask questions if you come across anything that seems a bit off.
The Value of Your Real Estate Agent's Insider Knowledge
If you are working with a good real estate agent, many of these issues are things they will pick up too, and will already be doing the research you need them too. They will also be happy to get the answers to any other questions you might have. Even those you are afraid to ask (like what that strange smell is.)
Sometimes people will tell you that you really don't need to work with a buyer's agent when looking for a Waterloo Region home. And legally and technically, you don't. However, as it will rarely ever cost you a penny to do so, and we can do all of the due diligence needed to ensure you are getting the best possible deal on the great, perfect for you home you want, why wouldn't you?
Ready to start looking for your perfect Waterloo Region home? Contact the award-winning Team Pinto today, and let's talk about just how we can help you. Schedule a free Zoom consultation here to get the conversation started!