7 Red Flags to Look For When Buying a House - NYCM Insurance Blog

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Feb 13, 2023

7 Red Flags to Look For When Buying a House

There are few things that compare to the magnitude of the decision to buy a house. In addition to being a costly commitment, a house can be the place you spend the majority of your time for decades to come, and so the decision should never be taken lightly.

Being in the market to buy a house can be a very exciting feeling, but sometimes that excitement can distract you from viewing the house as it really is. If you’re looking to buy a house, it’s important that you know what red flags to look for to ensure you aren’t blinded by your own enthusiasm. Here’s a list of seven red flags to look for when you search for your forever home!


Structural Damage

A solid structure and foundation should be among the first things on your checklist when buying a house. Small crevices may be normal in a house over time, but larger crevices can be evidence of a bad structure or foundation that could lead to costly repairs in the future. Look for any cracks in the foundation or floors, and any gaps in the windows and doors. You will also want to inspect the roof, ensuring it is stable and void of any signs of leakage. Buying a new house is a big investment and having to replace a foundation or roof are among the costliest home repairs to make.



Check for signs of any pests that could be inhabiting and damaging the home. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), termites cause billions of dollars in structural damage every year, and property owners spend over two billion dollars every year to treat against them. If the house you’re considering buying has a wooden foundation, you will want to make sure it’s void of any termites that could threaten the structural integrity. If the house has a concrete foundation, you may be less likely to have issues with termites, but either way, it may be a good idea to have a professional pest inspector have a look at the property before you close.


State of the Neighborhood

When you buy a house, you’re also buying the neighborhood and the community around it. You’ll want to make sure you feel comfortable, safe, and happy with the neighborhood before you commit to anything, even if the house is perfect. Take a good hard look at things like the state of the neighborhood’s roads and the proximity of the house to highly-trafficked or loud streets. Reach out to neighboring residents and see if they have any concerns with the area. You may also want to look into if the neighborhood is prone to power or internet outages.


Prone to Flooding

Do some research to find out if the house is in a high-risk flood zone. All houses stand some risk of flooding, but some regions are more prone to flooding than others. For houses in a high-risk flood area, flood insurance may be required as losses due to floods are less likely to be covered by homeowner insurance. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a flood map you can use as a resource.


Unusual Odors

Strange smells can be a solid indicator that something is awry in a house. Unusual odors may mean that the house has issues with things like poor ventilation, molds, or pests. Don’t be afraid to use your sense of smell when inspecting closets, crawl spaces, or basements to make sure you aren’t missing anything when you’re inspecting the house. If you do find a strange odor but cannot find the source, it may be necessary to consult with a home inspection professional to look into it before taking any further actions.



Molds in a home can produce allergens or toxins that can present serious threats to the inhabitants’ health. Molds need moisture in order to grow, and consequently can be evidence of a water or drainage problem somewhere in the home. Once molds have begun growing indoors, it is nearly impossible to completely rid it from the home as it can be found in the air and dust. If you find molds in the house you’re looking at, you may want to reconsider to save yourself the trouble and expense of dealing with it.


Problematic Electrical Work

Test out the house’s light switches and power outlets to ensure they are in working order. If some lights flicker or some outlets do not work, it may be evidence of a problematic electrical system. Electrical problems are also a leading cause of house fires. Rewiring a house can cost thousands of dollars, so you should aspire for a home with a functioning and safe electrical system.


Buying a new house is a big step, and you should be diligent in your inspection before making any commitments. Even if the house you are considering appears to be void of any of the previously mentioned red flags, you may want to contact a certified home inspector to make sure you didn’t miss anything.


Are you in the market to buy a new house? Here are 5 questions you should ask before you do!