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Wendy Gimpel

Red Flags at an Open House

Many prospective home buyers wander around at an open house without much of a plan. They look at the layout of the rooms, the general feel of the place, and the brands of the appliances that will come with the kitchen. But buyers with a plan and a little forethought know precisely what they’ll be looking for during the open house.

The housing market can be highly competitive, depending on where you’re shopping. This means that if your market is a hot one, you will probably be walking into a freshly cleaned and staged home that has probably seen some recent upgrades as well. That’s great, but they can also be a distraction from real issues that can present down the road. Here’s a list of a few red flags that can be a sign of significant problems in a home.

Nearby Water

The pond in the backyard that a dozen of the homes share or the idyllic little stream at the edge of the property are always beautiful until they aren’t. When severe weather happens, and water levels rise, there is the possibility of flooding for anyone near existing standing or flowing water. Always check the flood risk.

Water Damage

This is an important one. Water damage can come in many different forms and can hide very effectively. Look for subtle water lines on walls and ceilings, and they can indicate water damage from floods, leaks, or burst pipes. Check any exposed piping in the basement or utility rooms for rust or indications of leaks.


Mold can be one of the more challenging things to detect at an open house, but it is possible. When looking at kitchen and bathroom cabinetry, discreetly look near the pipes and drains for signs of mold on the woodwork. The smallest gray or black spots can indicate a much more serious problem that will be expensive to remediate down the road.

Improper Ventilation

This can be the impetus for future mold issues, as well as warping and damage to cabinets and wood flooring. Improper ventilation means that the house’s interior will not get the air circulation that it needs to stay dry. Indications of this are bubbling or peeling paint around air transfer areas, such as windows, vents, and doors.

Uneven Windows

Sometimes you see a home where the interior of the windows is lopsided or is difficult to operate due to being out of square. Sometimes, this is due to a cheap or just plain bad install job. This can be remedied, although usually not very cheaply, with a new window installation. The exception to this is if the issue is caused by a bigger problem, like foundation issues.

Foundation Issues

Most homes with concrete foundations will show hairline cracks. These are normal and indicate that the house is settling into its eventual resting state. Larger cracks or even worse, gaps can be a sign of a much bigger, more serious, and expensive problem with the foundation. This will show in windows being out of square, doors that stick, cracks that extend upwards from window frames, and uneven flooring.

Signs Of Neglect

Not necessarily doors-and-windows-open-vacant-house neglected, but blatant neglect all the same. Take a look for things that should be yearly or semi-annual maintenance tasks that haven’t been done. Chimney cleanings, roof leak inspection, water heater flush, changing the HVAC filters regularly, seal windows, and seal tiles. Look for things that will mean serious issues. Ticking time bomb appliances, hidden water damage, and even mold problems can all result from neglect.

Listing Agent in Stillwater

Having a knowledgeable Real Estate Agent is imperative to a good experience when buying or selling your home. Wendy Gimpel has over 20 years of experience in the field and will guide you through the process with accuracy and precision. Contact Wendy today for an appointment.

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