When you are searching for the perfect family home, there are so many factors to consider that it can make your head spin. Between the right size and number of bedrooms for the family, the location, and the price, there seems to be little room left to consider the details.
That being said, considering all the fine grained details of your potential new home before making an offer is crucial. While the big-picture factors matter the most, there are some small red flags that should make you reconsider the buy altogether. Some people ignore these red flags altogether, because they consider them negligible or fixable. We say: think again.
In this post, we’ll clue you in on the six biggest red flags that most people ignore. Shopping for a new home isn’t easy, so we’re here to help you avoid expensive mistakes.
Let’s get going!
1. Japanese knotweed.
If you have never heard of Japanese knotweed, listen closely. Japanese knotweed is a plant that grows wildly in the UK, but unfortunately, is a destroyer of homes, other plants, and bank accounts.
If a home you are viewing has Japanese knotweed present, run for the hills. Seriously. This stuff requires harsh chemicals to get rid of it, which can poison the other plants in your garden. If you have a dog or a cat, or small children for that matter, the presence of this poisonous plant in your backyard is a hazard.
Plus, if you choose to buy the home and have the knotweed destroyed, you have to repeat this destructive cycle every year. In addition, you will have to buy special insurance, simply because Japanese knotweed’s roots can get into your home’s foundations and cause extreme issues.
What does Japanese knotweed look like? That’s the problem: it looks like a regular weed, hidden in amongst the greenery of your average garden. It looks similar to bamboo, but with more rounded leaves.
If you suspect that a house you are considering buying has Japanese knotweed, ensure you get a specialist inspection to confirm its presence. If it is knotweed, it is best to look elsewhere for your dream home.
2. Damp (even in small amounts!).
We all know what damp is, and what it looks like. But do we all know how detrimental it can be to your home? Perhaps not. Large amounts of damp are a very common red flag for home buyers, but even small amounts of damp in the ceilings, walls and floors can be an indicator of a much bigger problem with the home.
Rising damp, which is damp that comes in from the floor, is a sign that the foundations of your home are not protecting it from excess moisture. There’s advice online about how to treat rising damp – but if you’re buying this home, you might be better to avoid that fate and look elsewhere for a home without foundational damage.
If you notice damp when you are viewing a home, feel free to quiz the current owner or estate agent about it. Has it been treated, or are they in the process of treating the damp? What is the extent of it? It could be that the treatment has already begun, but if not, you need to seriously consider whether you want to take on a property with damp issues.
3. Poor insulation
Insulation is a big part of what makes a home stable, secure, warm and sustainable. No matter what kind of temperatures your local area experiences year round, the insulation of your home is paramount to its temperature regulation. Even hot climates need well insulated homes.
If the home you are viewing needs its insulation re-installing, or generally updating, think very carefully before you make an offer. Insulation is a very expensive endeavour, and the updating of your insulation can cause you to stumble across lots of other issues in the walls of your home. These include vermin and asbestos, just to name a few!
Discuss with your real estate agent about your insulation options if you have fallen in love with a home that has insulation problems! This is a red flag that you need to take very seriously before you plunge into a sale that could cost you more than you thought.
4. Multiple homeowners within the past few years.
When you are viewing a home and seriously considering buying it, you should ask about previous owners. Why is this important? Simply put, if the home has been through many families in a short number of years, it could be seen as a red flag. If many people have bought the home and decided to move out very soon afterwards, it is a little odd, don’t you think?
We aren’t suggesting there are ghosts in the home, or that the home is cursed, or anything voodoo-esque like that! There are lots of factors that cause people to decide to move homes. It could be that their family expanded, or work situations changed, or simply that they wanted another change of scene.
However, if the crime rates in the area have soared, perhaps, or there have been other environmental changes to the home’s surroundings, these could inform a decision to move soon after arriving. This red flag isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, but it should definitely be explored – what are the reasons for so many owners, and do they matter to you?
Everybody needs light in their life, even if you don’t consciously realise it. When you are viewing a new home, there will be things you don’t like – such as tacky decor, furniture that isn’t to your taste, or similar design choices. These aren’t red flags, because you can alter them when you move in and make the house your own.
However, dark rooms are very difficult to rectify. The angle of the home, the surrounding buildings and the size of the windows are all factors that contribute hugely to the amount of natural light your home gets.
Not only this, but the factors that contribute to darkness in a home are very difficult to change. Unless you are ready to start knocking down walls or having new windows fitted – essentially, renovating the place top to bottom – you will need to learn to live with the levels of natural light that already exist in the home.
If you are viewing a home and you notice that the place is dark and dim in some places, you should think hard about whether that’s something you can cope with. If not, it’s time to look elsewhere!
6. No privacy.
If you are a person who values privacy in your home, you need to prioritise this when viewing a new place. Think about the home’s visibility from the street – if a passerby glances into your home, can they see the entire place from the pavement? If so, does this bother you? Both for your safety and your sense of privacy, the visibility from the curb is a crucial consideration before you put in an offer.
On the other hand, if you are a community-minded person who wants your home to be an open space for neighbours and friends to swing by, then a home that faces onto the street might be a good thing for you! Not all red flags are born equal, so you need to decide for yourself what you mind, and what you don’t.
If you are currently viewing homes with a view to move with your family, use this guide to help you spot commonly ignored red flags!
Disclosure: This is a partnered post