Virginia is known as a ‘Caveat Emptor’ state - Latin for 'buyer beware'. It is up to the buyer to do the necessary inspections and uncover any defects. A Seller can’t intentionally cover up a defect, that can be hard to prove. Here are a few tips to help you spot not so obvious problems.
Water stains are not just an eyesore on the ceiling, they can be a sign of a bigger problem. Any good home inspector will carry a moisture meter to be able to measure the moisture and thus tell if it is an active leak or not. You can’t tell by just looking at it.
Look in the cabinets underneath any sinks. You might need to move a few things out of the way to be able to see the floor and if there is any indication of water damage.
It is no secret in real estate that you sometimes get the biggest bang for your buck by painting. It can give a drab place a fresh clean look. But you want to make sure it is done for that purpose and not to cover up water stains or mold. Was the home fully repainted or was there just some patchy touchup work? If the latter, see if you can determine why and/or have your agent ask the owner.
Mood music is playing
Nothing wrong with a little mood music to appeal to all your senses, but sometimes it is used to mask other unpleasant noises. Try turning the music off and just listen. Any traffic noise? Any noise from your neighbors? Also be aware of the time of day you are viewing the property as that can make a big difference.
Speaking of noise, you want to be aware of where the trash haulers come to empty the dumpsters and what time they come. Nothing like being woken at 6 am to the banging of metal dumpsters every morning.
Furniture is smaller than normal
Staging a home has become common practice in real estate. There have been numerous studies that show a staged home receives a higher sales price. And for good reason - it makes the home more appealing and can create a warm, emotional connection.
But be aware of some of the tricks of the trade. Is there a love seat instead of a sofa? A double bed rather than a queen or king? These are just a couple techniques to make a small room appear larger.
It wouldn’t hurt to know the size of your furniture and carry a tape measure with you. Go back for a second look if you need to.
Room fresheners are in full use.
Room fresheners can be used to appeal to more of your senses, but they can also be used to mask some unpleasant odors. Some of the top offenders are pet odors, cigarette or cigar odors, and mold. Investigate further and find out what you aren’t smelling.
Every light is on and it is the middle of the day
I’ll confess. When I’m listing a condo, I tell the seller to use the maximum wattage light bulbs they can in all their lights and then even add a few more. I like to have at least three sources of light in every room. And keep the lights on for showings - don’t make the buyer’s agent turn on the lights because they are lazy. If they can’t simply flip a switch on the wall, they are not going to walk over to fumble with a light switch.
Lighting is so important in making a home the most appealing as it is a top consideration for most buyers. It’s perfectly fine to turn off some of the lights to see how it might be under normal conditions. Also, be aware that natural light will vary with the season, time of day and of course the weather. Going back for a second look on a different day at a different time of day is a good idea if you are seriously considering purchasing the home.
These are just a few tips to keep in mind when looking for a new home. Use all your senses when home shopping. Well, maybe not taste. Licking lead paint can be bad for you. Don't do that;)