There are so many things to look for when deciding to buy your first home, but there are also a few red flags that could be warning you away from making an expensive mistake. Here are some of the most important ones to watch out for!

The decision to purchase a house is one of the most significant decisions in life. Whether you’re buying with family members or friends, it’s not just about getting into debt – it’s about committing yourself to live somewhere for years and years. And if something goes wrong? Well, then you might have ruined your credit rating too! So before you sign on the dotted line, make sure these 12 things don’t apply:

1. Doors That Won’t Close

Your front door could be the single most crucial security feature in your house, and if it can’t shut and lock properly, you’re leaving yourself (and your family) wide open for attack. Make sure every door closes correctly, especially when locked – this means no sticking doors or jammed locks!

It would be best if you also looked out for gaps around the door seal, as well as signs of a previous break-in attempt. If you see any suspicious marks or anything that doesn’t look right with the door itself, take a closer look and figure out exactly what’s going on.

Some doors might close and lock still but adequately be flimsy and quickly broken down. Avoid this by testing the door itself to see how sturdy it is; you should also look at the window panes, as they can easily be smashed in. Checking the door and locks means you can take preventative measures to ensure your family’s safety, such as reinforcing the door and adding extra locks. You can check for the Best ways to Secure your Home in our article.

2. Molds and Mildews

Once your real estate agent has walked you through the house, they might give you the green light to start exploring on your own. However, if you get that unmistakable musty smell? You should take off running!

Mold is one of the surest signs of hidden water damage. While mold can show up anywhere in a house (especially in the bathroom and kitchen), it’s especially dangerous on the flooring since water tends to pool there. This means that you can end up with mold growing right under your feet without realizing it!

Other signs of moisture damage include warped wood, peeling wallpaper and paint, and discolored grout. Look out for these as well as a musty smell – they’re the best indications that there’s a hidden water leak somewhere that should be fixed before any other damage can take place.

Molds can have a significant impact on your health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “some molds can cause allergic reactions, respiratory problems, and infections.” There are more than 100 types of mold that could be in your house; you should always call a professional if you think there’s a mold problem. You can use our Tips to Get Rid of Molds to help you with the problem of Molds.

3. Insects and Pests

Just like mold and moisture, insects and pests can be a sign of hidden water damage. If there’s a leak in the roof or walls, they might be coming into your house looking for water.

While most insects and pests are harmless (ants, roaches, spiders), some may carry diseases you do not want to mess around with. Make sure you haven’t brought bedbugs into your house by checking for small black dots on the mattress, sheets, and other furniture.

It would help if you also looked out for spiders – especially black widow or brown recluse spider bites that happen to be blood red. If you see any of these signs, you can consider it one of the red flags, and you should discuss this with the homeowner!

Also Read: Tips to get rid of Bed Bugs

4. Water Stains on Walls and Ceilings

As we’ve already mentioned, water stains can signify mold growth. While they’re not always evident at first glance, you should always look closely and consider whether or not there’s anything unusual about water stains on the walls and ceilings. Darker patches around windows and doors may also point to moisture issues; make sure you know what’s causing these stains before committing to a purchase!

Be aware that many real estate agents will only mention the obvious ones when it comes to water stains. If you can’t see anything either at first glance or after checking the walls in detail, don’t be afraid to point out any unusual patches of discoloration that catch your eye!

Water stains on windows and doors can also be caused by water leakage. Make sure to ask the homeowner if they’ve had any problems with those areas of the house; there’s nothing like a good, honest discussion about your concerns and fears as a first-time buyer!

5. Signs of Structural Damage

You might not realize it, but houses with water damage can be at risk of structural damage. For example, if the walls aren’t adequately insulated, they can warp and shift – particularly during extreme weather conditions such as fires, floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes.

Upon inspecting a house, you will have to carefully inspect it and determine if it has any previous or existing problems that might affect its structural integrity. If you like the house, but it has some issues that are unfixable (without spending a lot of money), then think about ways to reduce the risk; for example, ask the seller if they’re willing to knock some money off or offer different terms in exchange for repairs.

Structural damages can be expensive to repair. Therefore, if a house has been exposed to previous structural damage due to any of the mentioned reasons, think about whether you can afford that risk and if it’s feasible for you. If it is, then go ahead!

Also See: How to make your House Hurricane Proof | Home Fire Prevention and Safety Tips

6. DIY Home Additions

DIY additions to the house can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it’s essential to know what you’re getting yourself into, and for this reason, it might be helpful to ask about the major renovation projects.

On the other hand, if everything looks fine when checking out a house but you notice that some essential features are missing or you find out that most of the house has been renovated by the owner, then think about whether this is a good sign and how it might affect your decision to buy.

7. Freshly Painted Walls and Ceilings

When a house has been recently painted, and everything looks fine, you might think this is a good sign. However, it can be one of the red flags as well! That’s because some people choose to paint over problems instead of fixing them; for example, walls or ceilings with water damage may have collapsed – which will make your house more expensive to repair in the future!

If you like the house and it has no visible damage, but fresh paint is everywhere, ask the seller why they painted over everything – or better still, check out any problems yourself before deciding whether or not you want to buy.

8. Everyone’s Selling in the Neighborhood!

While it might not seem like a big deal when you see multiple houses on sale in the same neighborhood, you should know that this is one of the red flags to look for when buying a house. That’s because when everyone starts listing their homes, it can indicate an over-inflated housing market – and such inflation is never good for future buyers!

If you find yourself in this situation, remember that it’s better to be patient and wait for prices to drop instead of rushing into a decision.

Another reason to avoid homes that are all over the market is because of fraudulent schemes. For example, you might be misled into thinking that there’s not enough time left to negotiate, so you’ll have to buy now at any price – making it easy for scammers to take advantage of your desperation and force you to pay much more than the home is worth!

Read Also: Selling Agent vs Listing Agent

9. Unusual Repair Works

When a house is being renovated, it’s essential to check that it has been done correctly and professionally. Unusual repair works, such as shoddy electrical or plumbing, decaying roof tiles, or a generally unsteady frame, is a sign of amateur work that will only lead to more expenses down the line.

Inspecting a house with repair works can be tricky unless you have experience in this field. While an amateur might not realize it, most defects are easy to spot for professionals. Therefore, hiring a reputable inspector or an architect to inspect the house for you before making any purchase decisions might be money well spent when it comes to avoiding future problems!

10. Poor Condition of Electrical Wiring and Plumbing

Electrical wires and plumbing are critical in every home, so any signs of neglect should be considered red flags that indicate major future problems. That’s because these are things that homeowners tend to forget about over time – even if they never had any issues with it before!

Therefore, if you see any signs of deterioration or damage to electrical wiring or plumbing, think twice about whether the home will become too expensive for you to maintain in the long run.

11. Aging HVAC System

HVAC systems are essential for keeping the air in your house fresh and ventilated. However, they require regular maintenance to keep them performing well – if not, you might find yourself with a home that’s hard to stay cool during summer or warm during winter!

When inspecting a house, check out all their HVAC systems carefully. If they’re older than about ten years, you’ll want to ask the seller if they’ve ever had any work done on it. While sometimes an old HVAC system might be efficient enough that no problems are visible, often there’s severe damage beneath the surface – which can be very costly to repair!

12. Roof Related Problems

It’s no secret that roofs are an essential part of your home. However, aside from their functional importance, things like broken tiles or shingles can also indicate poor workmanship!

Again, while some problems might not become evident until you’re several years into owning the house, many could result in severe damage that may not be visible at first glance. And to avoid the risk of falling prey to a scam, it’s best not to rule out homes with roofs that have been repaired or replaced by non-professionals!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it only homes already on the market with these red flags?

Not necessarily. Even if a home is being sold by an owner, meaning you won’t have to deal with realtors or other professionals, there’s still room for potential problems. After all, since the homeowner is doing the renovations, they could completely mess up the works or even take advantage of your lack of expertise in their field to sell you a lemon!

I’ve found a house with no red flags. Is it too good to be true?

It definitely can be – especially if you think about how long it’s been sitting there. Some houses may be too new to have any red flags, but a lot of the time, they sell so quickly that you might want to check for more subtle issues.

For instance, no significant problems visible from the surface could mean that the previous owner took good care of it and maintained the house properly throughout their ownership – which means it’s probably not a bad deal!

However, this also means that the owner might have been living elsewhere throughout their ownership – meaning there could be hidden problems in the house you can’t see from the surface. In any case, it never hurts to get a professional opinion just in case!

I’m buying a house for investment purposes – do red flags matter?

Definitely! Even if you’re buying a house for investment purposes, it’s essential to make sure that the property’s potential is increased. You wouldn’t want to be stuck with a home that needs tons of renovations and maintenance work done on it simply because you didn’t notice any problems beforehand.


Houses are essential, not just for providing shelter to their inhabitants but also as an investment. Therefore, while you want to buy a home that will give you returns in the long run, it is equally important that there are no major problems with your house already. The above-mentioned top red flags indicate major future problems making it important that you look into these red flags before buying a house.

Also See: Tips for Buying a Waterfront House | Red Flags to Look For when Renting a House

Written by

Rostislav Shetman is the founder of 9Kilo Moving. He has been in the moving and relocation industry for more than 25 years, making him an expert in his field. Rostislav started as a helper, dispatcher and driver and has worked his way up to owning his own company. He takes great pride in his work and enjoys helping people relocate across the United States of America. When he's not working, Rostislav enjoys spending time with his family and friends. They are the light of his life and bring him happiness every day.