Young businessman with roadsign in hand standing on brick roof. Mixed media

When buying a new home, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of it and overlook some important things. The key is to minimize costs. If a homeowner can sell a home without spending thousands of dollars on repairs they probably will. After all, they want to make the most on their home investment as well.

When home hunting, keep an eye out for certain red flags. At best, you’ll avoid buying a place that needs a lot of pricey repairs. At the least, you’ll gain some leverage in negotiating costs and/or required fixes before you sign on the dotted line. Here are the top 5 red flags that buyers should be looking out for when home hunting in NYC.

1. Foundation Issues

The foundation is perhaps the most important component of a home. A problem with the foundation can cost thousands to correct the problem. When looking at a home be aware of the foundation. If it has a basement it’s very easy to check for cracks in the foundation. You can find other tell-tale signs by checking the doorframes throughout the house or apartment. If they don’t seem quite square or have difficulty closing it suggests problems with the structure.

2. Asbestos

A very common problem with older NYC properties is the use of asbestos in the building materials. It can be found in the floor and ceiling tiles, insulation for pipes as well as plaster, paints, and cement. Long-term exposure can cause major health problems and the cost of removal by a licensed remediation company can run from $5,000 to $10,000. The worst thing is that you can’t tell if a material contains asbestos just by looking at it. If you suspect it does collect a small sample and send it in for testing.

3. Random Fresh Paint

It’s not uncommon for a home seller to prep their home to look its best. This may include a fresh coat of paint on the walls. It’s inexpensive and one of the biggest recommendations realtors make to homeowners prior to listing. What they will never recommend though is only painting one wall or small area. If you notice that only one wall or a small portion of the ceiling is freshly painted that suggests the seller is trying to hide something. It’s a red flag and should be a cause for concern.

5. Pest/Insect Problems

A pest problem is a major red flag in any home and there are certain types of insects that buyers need to be on the lookout for. Wood destroying pests can pose a serious problem and cause damages that can run into the thousands to repair. The most common pests in NYC apartments to look out for are termites, silverfish and rats or mice. This is where it pays to have a home inspection done before agreeing to anything with the seller.

5. A neighborhood in Poor Condition

Buying a home means buying into a neighborhood as well. When home hunting, don’t just look at the house or apartment. Take a walk around the neighborhood and inspect how it looks. Are there a lot of boarded-up properties and vacant lots? Is there a lot of heavy industry or business parks? In other words, are there signs of stability and growth?


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