5 Things to Not Ignore At a Home Showing

Looking at homes can be overwhelming, especially if it’s your first try at buying a place of your own. Most homes have some flaw, small or large, and sometimes you can pick up on them during a showing or an open house. While most problems can be corrected with enough money, time and patience, being aware of these items will make the process — and your ownership — a lot easier.

[Read: How Does Selling a House As-Is Work?]

Here are five things real estate agents say you should never ignore at a showing:

1. Clutter

Sometimes, clutter is just the end result of a busy life or too many things and not enough places to put them, but sometimes it’s covering up things you should really know about.

“Even though clutter is usually just clutter, it could be hiding some things,” says Laura Carroll Duckworth, real estate agent with Flat Fee Redefined, an agency brokered by eXp Realty LLC in Springfield, Missouri. “I had one where the seller refused to move a lot of their stuff for the inspection, and then it turned out there was termite damage behind it.”

Termites are bad enough, but they’re not the only bugs you may come across living in a cluttered home. They’re all going to require an exterminator at minimum, and the problem could be a lot worse than you imagine.

“I was showing a foreclosure and they didn’t do a trash out of the property,” says Tammy Nevin, real estate agent with First Weber Inc. in Tomah, Wisconsin. “There was debris and garbage everywhere. It looked like they just picked up and walked out. The stench was a combination of cigarettes and cats. As I was walking through and I looked closer, I noticed lots of little bugs jumping around — they were fleas. We ran out of there pretty quickly.”

[The 5 Worst Bugs For Your Home]

2. Room Deodorizers

Homeowners often will use plug-in deodorizers or other air fresheners to make their home smell welcoming to a potential buyer. But if you smell something more than just the air freshener, it’s time to look a little closer.

“Some people have air fresheners and room sprays and the buyer might wonder, ‘Oh, what are they trying to cover up?'” says Duckworth. “Sometimes they’re not trying to cover up anything, they just want the house to smell good for the buyers. Other times, there are layers to that scent that might indicate problems with mold, rodents or insects.”

3. Area Rugs

While it might not occur to you that a seller could be hiding damage in plain sight, it’s not uncommon. Area rugs should always be considered suspicious until you’ve seen what’s underneath.

“One of my clients purchased a home about seven years ago and it had beautiful hand-scraped hardwood floors throughout,” says Neil Brooks, real estate agent with My Home Group in Scottsdale, Arizona, and an agent within the Veterans United Realty Network. “During the showing, the owner was there and took us on a tour. When shown the living room, he pointed out the area rug and mentioned that it was expensive and placed it there so their grandchildren could play comfortably. He added that he would leave it for my client because it fit nicely in the room.

“My client decided to purchase the home, and upon moving in, moved the carpet to buff the floors to find out that the rug covered a three-foot area where the previous owners’ dog chewed the floor down, exposing the slab.”

4. The Neighborhood

Most neighborhoods show well enough during the daytime, when everyone is at work. It still pays to familiarize yourself with the neighborhood you’re considering, especially if a house is having trouble selling.

“One major red flag is not the house itself, it’s the neighbors,” says Bob Thompson, real estate agent with American Homes Of Eastern VA, Inc., in Hampton Roads, Virginia. “I encourage all my buyers to do what I call the Friday night drive-by. Every neighborhood looks great at 3 p.m. on a Tuesday, but weekends are when you find out what people are really like. That’s important, because no one wants to get stuck next to the loud drunk neighbors or racist neighbors.”

[What to Do If You Have Annoying Neighbors]

5. DIY Repairs

Homeowners often do home repairs, and to a high quality standard, because they care about their homes and want to take care of them to the best of their ability. But sometimes, no matter how hard someone may try, they might just not be cut out for DIY. When those repairs are obvious, it’s something to pay close attention to.

“When you can tell the homeowner did their own repair work on something and did a poor job on it, that’s important — what else did they attempt to repair?” says Thompson. “Also be sure to look at minor repairs on a rehabbed property. If they did poor work on the small things, did they do poor work on the big things?”

What if You Spot a Problem at the Showing?

A showing is just a chance to get to know a house that you might be interested in. It’s an opportunity to see all the home’s visible red flags and decide how much those things bother you. This is why it’s so important not to get too serious about a house right away, even if you think it’s your dream home.

“Try not to fall in love with a home initially, just date it until you have a thorough understanding of what you’re buying,” says Brooks. “It’s a Realtor’s duty to be the voice of reason and point out all of the potential issues and err on the side of caution in order to protect their client.”

Once you’ve identified the issues that may or may not be serious enough to fall out of love with a property, it’s time to put pencil to paper. Ignoring issues won’t solve them, but every problem related to a home can be fixed, if you go in with your eyes open.

“Every issue can be overcome with time, money, expertise or a combination of all three,” says Aimee Thayer-Garcia, broker-associate at Montalvo Homes & Estates in Santa Cruz, California. “Ignoring red flags at a showing can set buyer, seller and their agents up for a challenging escrow. Every transaction has its own speed bumps — a huge part of the work as an agent for buyer clients is preparing for them and setting expectations.”

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5 Things to Not Ignore At a Home Showing originally appeared on usnews.com

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