Deciding to buy a home or rent an apartment is both exhilarating and overwhelming. While it can be easy to get swept up in the home's charm with stylish staging, spacious room sizes and beautiful views. Though, the real value of the home or apartment lies in the small details. Here is a list of red flags you should not ignore when viewing a home or apartment.

Foundation Issues

A house is only as good as its foundation. It's common for homes to have vertical or horizontal cracks, which are just an indicator that the house is settling into its position. However, large gaps are never a good sign. Some other things that indicate a poor foundation are visible cracks above window frames, doors that don't open and close properly, counters and cabinets separating from the wall, and uneven floors.

Tip: A way to check to see if a floor is uneven is to roll a marble from one side to the other.

Poor Tiling

bad bathroom tiling

Carefully inspect the tile in the bathrooms and kitchen. Look for gaps and uneven flooring and tile. A janky tile job signifies potential future repairs. Besides, lazy tiling workmanship could mean that other aspects of the home are not professionally done, especially if the house was flipped.

Overwhelming Scents

Don't be fooled by the scent of gardenias and island breeze when you walk into a home, it could be masking an offensive odor. If there are candles in every corner of the room, on top of reed diffusers, plug-ins and anything else you would find at a Yankee Candle or Bath and Body Works, then this is not a good sign. You don't want to be stuck with a property that reeks of mildew, cigarette smoke, or pet accidents, so be aware of properties that are overly fragrant.

Rickety Windows

Take a moment to take a look at the windows. Pull back the curtains and check for lopsided frames and if the windows easily open and shut. If the windows stick or won't close then it could be an indicator of foundation issues or poor installation. Either way, fixing this problem can be expensive for new window installation can run you anywhere from $4,000 to $20,000. Yikes!


Mold is an obvious red flag that you need to be aware of. A way to check for mold is to use your senses. Look out for grayish or black spots along with a musty odor. Mold grows in moist and poorly ventilated areas, so discreetly check cabinets, crannies under the sink, and corners in the bathroom. Also, it's a good idea to pull back the carpet as for mold and mildew can hide here. Some homeowners have a section of the carpet removed so you can see the condition of the floors. While mold can be easily removed, it's better to move into a home that is mold-free.

Water Damage

damaged ceiling

Often where there is mold, there is water damage. Check walls, ceilings, and water lines for signs of water damage; this usually indicates flooding, a leak, or a burst pipe. Additionally, check the basement and laundry room pipes for rust, water stains, or leaks. Also, check the dampness of the basement. A damp basement signifies flooding or a leaky pipe. There's nothing more devastating than having to deal with a flooding basement or expensive plumbing repairs, so save yourself the time and frustrating by checking for water damage beforehand.

HVAC Airflow Problems

One of the first things you should do when looking at a home or apartment is to check the HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). Test both the cold and hot air settings and see if it blows the respective air temperatures. Also, listen for any strange noises or weird smells as this could be a sign that the filter needs to be changed.

Faulty Electrical Work

electrical panel

Shoddy electrical work can mean big trouble. The first thing you need to check is the electrical panel, it's not a good sign when you see loose or disconnected wires--this could mean that there are live wires inside the walls! The electrical panel should be clean and organized. If you're confused, refer to this detailed guide to an ideal electrical panel. Along with the electrical panel, you may want to check the electrical outlets in the home or apartment. To do this, bring your cell phone charger with you and plug it in the outlets to check the function.

Signs of Negligence

Signs of neglect and poor maintenance speaks volumes on the property owner or landlord. In other words, if the property owner couldn't be bothered with replacing light bulbs or changing filters then they probably won't be bothered with any problems once they arise. All of these things usually signal that you're dealing with a bad landlord or inattentive homeowner.

Cosmetics Enhancements

nicely designed living room

What's really hiding under that fancy area rug? A trick that homeowners or landlords like to employ is by covering up flaws with paintings, areas rugs, and other distracting and aesthetically pleasing objects. Therefore, be sure to check under area rugs to see if there are any pet damage or mold.

Additional Tips for House and Apartment Hunters

Check the Water Pressure - Run the water and take note of the pressure and how long it takes for it to get hot and cold.

Taste the water - If the water has a metallic taste, then the pipes may be old which can pose major problems in the future.

Flush the toilets - Ensuring that all of the toilets work properly will save you a headache, and possible embarrassment, later.

Check the cell reception -__The phrase "Can you hear me now?" went out in the early 2000's, don't bring it back with terrible cell phone reception.

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