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Are you thinking of dipping your toes into the St. Louis real estate market? Tired of renting and looking to own a home of your own? Purchasing a property may be the largest transaction you’ll ever make, so be sure to do your research when scoping out the current listings. The good news is that you can learn a lot about a home simply by reviewing their listing. These listing red flags will help you wean out the properties that aren’t worth your while.
There are a few red flags to consider regarding listing photos. The largest red flag would be if the listing doesn’t have any photos whatsoever, which could imply one of two things – either the seller has no motivation to sell the home, or the place is in need of some major repair or clean up. If the listing photos only include the exterior of the home and its surrounding neighborhood, this is also an indication that the interior is out of sorts. Many listings will include photos that are taken with a fisheye lens, causing them to look a bit stretched out, which is typically done because the rooms are smaller than average and they’re trying to give the appearance that the property is spacious. We all know that natural light is a big selling feature and it improves the quality of any photo, but if all of the pictures are taken with the curtains drawn, you have to ask yourself what kind of eyesore they’re hiding on the other side of that window.
If a seller lists their home with an asking price well below market value, there’s probably a reason. Now there are circumstances where a homeowner may need to sell quickly, such as money issues or job relocation, but it’s best to ask your realtor to find out the motivating factor behind the lower asking price. You may also want to find out just how long the current owner has lived there – if they’ve only been there a short time, it may be an issue with the home itself, or a problem within the neighborhood.
A short sale occurs when the current owner of the home has defaulted on their mortgage payments and are on the brink of foreclosure. Purchasing a short sale can be done and can sometimes allow you to purchase for a much lower price, but there are a few factors you should be aware of prior to entering into such a transaction. Short sales can be a long process, as you’re not only negotiating with the seller, you’re also negotiating with the bank that owns their mortgage. Additionally, if the owner has not been able to pay their mortgage, they probably haven’t had the cash to maintain the home and its maintenance.
As a potential buyer, you’ve probably done your research to pin down the neighborhoods of St. Louis that you prefer. Just be sure to take a close look at the listings in those neighborhoods to see if there’s a pattern of multiple homes for sale. Multiple listings in the same neighborhood can suggest that there is a problem with the area. Has crime spiked? Have the schools lost funding? Are there plans to build a large development in the area? All of these things can change the feel of the neighborhood and may be causing people to leave.
Renovations should never be a bad thing, but if the home was renovated in different stages, you could have some issues in the long run. For example, if the owners turned the garage into a family room in 1989 and then added a bathroom and guest room to the family room in 2001, this could be a red flag that the renovations aren’t uniform or that they weren’t permitted. Be sure to pay attention to the square footage on the listing, because if they list a home as 1500 square feet but it’s obviously 2500 square feet, that means the additions were done without permits which could pose a problem for you in the future. While the cosmetic changes are appealing, be sure to check out the house and make sure it’s up to code.
With so many home listings at your fingertips, house hunting can seem overwhelming. The key is to weed out the obvious ones you don’t want and focus on the listings that peak your interest. With this knowledge on your mind, that will be a simple task. Happy house hunting!