What I'm Seeing Now


Buyer Red Flags - At the First Look-see - Part 2 of 3


This is the second post of some things to look for the first time you walk through a property with a client.  You will want to be even more scrutinizing if this is subsequent to the first visit and the client is serious about making an offer.  These are Red Flags that can be added to your list:

  • Old windows and storms.  There is a reason window replacement is such a big business and one of the most common remodels on an older home.  Older windows are obviously less efficient, more drafty and energy wasters.  Plus, many don't work properly!  Often people sell houses before they absolutely have to do repairs or replacements.
  • One repainted wall or ceiling.  This is a Red Flag.  Why would one wall be repainted?  It might be that the color used to be furniture friendly or a design-specific accent color.  But, often not - it's a cover up!  The same with ceilings.  During an inspection I will examine all ceilings with a flashlight laid horizontally along the ceiling looking for recent drywall repairs.  It is not out of line to ask the seller a question about a recent paint job.
  • Wet basement drain.  Most homes have some form of basement floor drain.  They can clog.  What's in there - frog, muck, paint?  A continually wet condition can promote unfavorable health conditions - molds, bacterias, etc.  Always a Red Flag, it pays to look.
  • Two layers of shingles.  This is a common option when wanting to sell a house.  It is cheaper and quicker.  It is often difficult to see.  Is it a quick cover up?  Red flag!  A clever roofer will hide the second-layer fact by removing the bottom course or side shingles.  A give away would be new shingles and an old plumbing penetration sleeve!  Or funky flashing.  A second layer of shingles will not get the same life span that a single layer will.  It appears to your buyer that he is getting a new roof, and he is not!
  • Large, unsealed gaps.  These could be in the drywall or foundation walls.  Why wouldn't the seller seal them up?  Or, has a repair already been done and it opened up again?  Look for previous repairs.  Large gaps indicate movement.  From what source?

My recommendation:   Keep your eyes peeled.  Look around and ask questions.  It adds to your professionalism and value in the eyes of your client to be forthcoming with questions or observations.  Be a team - many eyes are better than two.  On inspections I say to my clients - "We are a team now.  Let me know what you see!"

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560


Comment balloon 2 commentsJay Markanich • November 10 2008 04:13AM


Jay, thanks for the great tips. It is amazing how many things can get overlooked because the buyer is exited about the home, that is why a home inspection is critical.

Posted by Patty Carroll about 12 years ago

Thanks for the visit to my post about the little light dimmer critter.

I find it interesting to look at houses with my buyers.  They are generally looking at the layout, the carpet, number of rooms. I, on the other hand, look at the ceilings for signs of moisture, under sinks for plumbing issues, multiple roof layers, etc.

I look forward to reading the rest of your blog.

Posted by Steve Hall, Make the Call to Hankins and Hall (RE/MAX United) about 12 years ago

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