Picture this - you walk into a home that looks as good as new at first glance! The paint looks fresh and the scent of warm cookies fills the home. While this is certainly a great first impression, it could signal that there may be hidden issues within the home.


Today, we’re sharing some items to watch for when you’re touring a property and why even the best first impressions may be deceiving. Be sure to keep an eye out for these red flags to look for as you embark on your home search. 


Too Much Scent

While walking into a home filled with a pleasant aroma such as freshly baked cookies or a freshly lit candle is a nice surprise at the moment, it could signal a not-so-welcome surprise down the road. The bolder the scent, the more likely the seller could be trying to hide a not-so-pleasant smell from potential buyers. 


In this situation, you should take some time to test out the smell in each room of the house, from the basement to the bedroom, to the bathrooms. Carefully examine the walls, ceiling, and floors for signs of water damage, pet accidents, smoke, or mildew before deciding that this is the home for you. Additionally, be sure to smell outside, as any unpleasant odors from the outdoors will be difficult to overcome. 


Keep in mind that a batch of baking cookies does not always signal disaster. However, it’s important to be aware of the possibility and do your due diligence as you tour the property. 


Cosmetic Enhancements

Fresh paint does not always signal a red flag. Many sellers will apply a fresh coat of paint to showcase their property in the best possible light. However, if you find one particular wall or area with a more recent paint job than the others, it could signal something that the sellers wanted to cover up, such as a patch of mold or water damage.


Additionally, other cosmetic enhancements should be examined. Be sure to look under rugs to ensure there are no unwelcome surprises such as pet stains.


A bit of sprucing up is nothing out of the ordinary, but if something feels out of place, it’s always good to give it a second look. 


Foundation Issues

Many homes have hairline cracks, which is simply a signal of the home settling as it ages and typically does not call for concern. However, large gaps may signal a bigger issue with the foundation. Other red flags to look out for include sticking windows or doors, visible cracks above the window frame, and slanted floors. 


When in doubt, a professional will be able to review any concerns and help you determine if there are any major foundation issues you should be aware of. Keep in mind that if there are any questionable cracks during your initial inspection but you love the rest of the home, you can still make an offer on the property. Work with your real estate agent to draft an offer that will allow you to have a professional come in and inspect any foundation concerns that you may have. If the outcome is not desirable, you'll have the protection needed to either renegotiate or walk away from the deal. 



Mold doesn’t always present itself in obvious places. As you tour the home, be sure to take some time to examine the areas where mold may form. Open the bathroom and kitchen cabinets and inspect the space surrounding the water pipes and drains. Additionally, you can check the caulking around the shower and tub for black spots, and look for patches on the ceiling. Even small black or gray spots could signal a more serious problem. 


Similar to foundation concerns, a professional can test any mold found and provide you with greater insight into the issue and resolution. If any mold is found during your tour of the property, you can also work with your agent to write an offer that allows you to have the mold professionally tested. 


Wonky Windows

Be sure to take some time to carefully examine the windows and test them if you can. Look for any lopsided frames and see if the window opens earlier. If the window jams, it could signal issues with the foundation as we mentioned earlier, or just poor installation. However, even poor installation could mean big expenses. You’ll likely need to replace windows that were incorrectly installed. This is a large expense that many homeowners do not want to take on unexpectedly when they purchase a new home.


Bottom Line

While these are a few red flags to watch out for, they are not the only problems that you could come across when you purchase a home. Additionally, things like a fresh coat of paint or a lit candle do not always mean that there is something wrong with the property. Therefore, it’s always wise to enlist the help of a home inspector to help you detect any unwanted surprises. Still, by knowing some of these common red flags, you’ll have some tools under your belt as you house hunt to help you decide if the property is the right one for you.