Red Flags To Look Out For When Looking at Homes

Red Flags To Look Out For When Looking at Homes

Red flags are a bummer.

As a lot of people are house hunting in 2022, this post feels well-timed. House hunters are trying to get into a great home where they can be happy for a long time. To help improve your odds of being happy with where you land, here are a few red flags to keep an eye out for during your home search. 

Red Flag #1: Location

The first thing we want to point out is location. Once you buy a home, you can’t pick it up and move it. You’re signing up for a long-term marriage with that location. 

Several things play into this:

  • Is the house in the back of a neighborhood? That means less traffic, but it also means you also have a longer drive just to get there. 
  • Is it at the front of the neighborhood? This means a lot more traffic driving by every day. 
  • Does it back up to a major highway or interstate? If so, expect a constant hum of traffic noise. 
  • Are you close to structures or physical features you aren’t a fan of, like towers holding electric lines or a big cliff? 

These types of things can be red flags when buying a home in California, so keep them in mind as you look around. 

Red Flag #2: History

Look at the ownership history of the home. How many people have lived there since the home was built? Each time someone bought it, how long did they live there?

If you’re seeing a lot of short stays at home, that may be a bad sign. It could mean things are constantly going wrong. Maybe the home’s backyard floods every time it rains. Maybe there are major foundation issues with the home that people are trying to get away from so they don’t have to pony up the money to fix them. 

Yes, Americans move a lot. But if a home only has people staying for 1-2 years before getting out, that’s a bit extreme. 

Red Flag #3: Bouncy or Uneven Flooring

When you walk through a home, try this trick: bring a small ball or a marble. You can use it in different areas of the house to see if the floors are uneven.

Older homes tend to settle, which can make floors uneven. If they’re really uneven and the marble starts rolling down the floor very quickly, that’s a bad sign. 

However, there is a caveat here. Older homes that have settled means that you don’t have to worry about a major shift anymore, whereas that’s still TBD with newer construction. 

And keep in mind that the median home in the US was built in 1978, meaning the average age for a home is 44 years old!

So you can’t really judge a home by its cover but you can get a good indication with just a simple marble.

Red Flag #4: Scents or Music

This one is more of an orange flag. Sellers often try to make a house viewing as hospitable as possible. They want to show the house at its best. While there’s nothing wrong with some good old-fashioned hospitality, you should take it with a pinch of salt. For example, when you walk into the home, are you overwhelmed by the smell of potpourri or candles, or chocolate chip cookies? While this is a common open house feature, it is also sometimes used to hide the scent of dog urine or another smell! Maybe there is some music playing? It may be that the home is really noisy because it backs up to a highway, so they’re trying to cover it up. 

Red Flag #5: Poorly Done Renovations

Don’t get us wrong – home renovations that increase home value are great. But renovation projects that were done poorly are not so great. 

If something major such as the addition of a deck or a room to the house has been done, check to see if the owner got a permit. If they didn’t so they could “save a little money,” they may have done a bad job, leaving you with an unsafe part of the house!


Buying a house in California is a great option right now. The housing market in 2022 will be a  hot one to watch, but that doesn’t mean you should take shortcuts and rush into buying a home. Take your time, consider your options and beware of some of the red flags we’ve pointed out.  It’s better to be safe than sorry! 

When you’re ready to start looking at homes, go with a team that knows what kind of red flags to watch out for. Send us an email or call us at (949) 271-7802 and we’ll get you started.