Researching Property: Top Issues to Look for When Buying or Renting a Home

Don’t miss any of these red flags when investigating and researching property.

Thoroughly looking at a property you are interested in buying (or having someone inspect it for you), is a crucial aspect of the home buying process. It is your chance to act as an investigator and find out why this property is up for sale. Although you may not see issues at first glance, there may be problems the current owner is trying to hide from you. Don’t be fooled! The following tips will help you uncover the real truth of a property and its history.

Remember, safety first. “Make sure there are a lot of outlets, ideally GFI outlets, to reduce the danger of being shocked from faulty plug-in cords and devices,” explains Jeff Kaplan, owner and operator of Household Inspections Inc. While this may seem like an inexpensive fix, it’s one you won’t want to deal with over something such as a hardwood floor replacement.

A clean house is a great sign. This can be a preview for how the house has been maintained by its previous owners. A clean home will most likely have minimal issues with bugs or hidden problems around the house that the owner is trying to cover up. Be sure to look in crawl spaces or closets where more unwanted issues might be hiding.

Speaking of hiding, basements easily can hide a lot of problems. Many of them have water issues that new home buyers will not want to deal with. Look for cracks in the floor or a clean basement with a pile of furniture that may be covering a water issue, seepage or flooding.

Try out the appliances. While they may look pretty at first glance, you will not be happy if you move in with a faulty dishwasher. Kaplan describes, “You should run all of the appliances to see if they work! You want to see how things are hooked up, where the drainage system goes and ensure that it is working properly.”

Don’t be gentle. What you don’t want to do when inspecting a property is act like you are a guest in someone else’s home. If it will one day be yours, you will want to stomp around to see how well it holds up. Kaplan says, “See what the railings and the stairs are like. Your house will be abused, and it is fair to take a look how it will hold up.” As you stomp your feet, make sure to slam a few doors while you are at it too.

Talk to the neighbors. These people have a wealth of information the owner or realtor might not tell you. “Your neighbor will be the one to tell you that their basement flooded a year ago, or if they don’t like the landlord, they are ready to unload their stories that will let them once and for all get back at them,” Kaplan explains. They don’t have anything to lose, especially if they are moving out and therefore ready to share what it is really like to live there.