Warning Signs to Look Out for When Buying Property

An estate agent shows a couple round a home with a floor plan on a tablet
Author: Samuel Beckingham
Updated: Sep 13, 2023
4 minutes read

Buying a home is a huge undertaking, but sometimes you might not be clued up about what to look out for. No home is ever going to be truly perfect, but some can be much worse than others. The occasional deal-breaker can present itself during a house viewing or a structural survey, but there are some things to look out for that are immediate red flags.

New Paint

While it could simply be a way to make the property look more impressive, a little touch up could be warning signs that there are underlying issues being covered up. Paint can temporarily mask stains, water damage and problems with mould. The issue here is that once you’ve moved in, these problems will then present themselves and can become costly to rectify.

Overpowering Scents

Air freshener is quite good at providing a pleasant smell as you view a home, but too much of it could also be an indication that stronger smells are trying to be covered up. Smoke and pet odours are not major issues, but particularly strong smells like mould, rotting wood and sewage are much worse and expensive to correct.

Fluctuating Room Temperatures

If rooms are unusually hot or cold between different zones, this could indicate problems with the heating system. It could also be an issue with insulation or ventilation. In terms of comfort and affordable energy bills, a home should have sound heating and good energy efficiency. Double glazing should be a minimum for most homes. Missing insulation can be costly to install.

Fresh Plaster

Some sellers will try to put small issues right before they sell their home, but fresh plaster could be a cause for concern. While small cracks are normal for homes that are settling and drying out, larger cracks could be a sign that bigger structural problems are afoot. It is difficult to tell how big the cracks are. Look above door frames or for plaster that goes diagonally. A door not shutting properly or cracks in a brickwork pattern could indicate larger problems.

Water Pressure

It may seem rude to help yourself, but make sure you ask to check the water outlets. Low water pressure can wreak havoc on fittings and can be indicative of hidden problems, such as corroded water pipes. At worst, your drinking water can become contaminated. At best, your showerhead will harbour limescale build-up much more quickly.

Water Stains

Older problems can suffer from issues with damp. Peeling wallpaper or paint is a glaring red flag to look out for, alongside a musty smell and surface stains. You can always ask the seller if there have been any issues with damp in the past or if there’s any ongoing issues. Ventilation should be adequate to prevent sustained problems with wetness. The gutters and drainpipes need to be free flowing and clear so no water stands and collects against the property.

Final Thoughts

So, when it comes to scoping out a new property that’s not a new build, make sure that you look for all the tell-tale signs that something isn’t quite right. You will save yourself such a headache and a massive bill later down the line. There’s nothing worse than completing your home move and realising your dream property was merely masking an unending list of nightmares.

Building surveys should be completed to highlight any of these issues. Even though it’s an extra cost to you as the buyer, it can give you complete peace of mind.