5 red flags to look for in a New York home sale

There are several items that should give a New York potential homebuyer cause for concern before signing on the dotted line.

While buying a home in New York can be an exciting time, it is also a time for careful consideration. This purchase will likely be among the largest expenses a consumer will take on. Though there are laws in place to protect homebuyers, there are some items that could cause trouble in the near or distant future. Therefore, anyone considering buying a residential property should beware of the following red flags:

1. Major Damage

Under the New York Property Condition Disclosure Act, sellers are required to warn potential buyers of certain property conditions. The state-issued form designates spaces where the current homeowner can clarify if the building is in a floodplain, if there is termite damage and if there are issues with the roof, for example.

This form should be inspected thoroughly. Though some issues could be resolved fairly quickly and even at the expense of the owner, others may be cause to walk away. A large crack in the foundation or extensive rotted wood could be more trouble than it is worth to buy the home.

2. Poor home inspection

The property disclosure form does not take the place of a professional home inspection. Simply because someone is required to notify a buyer of an issue does not mean it will happen. Further, there could be problems that an owner does not know about. The National Association of Realtors notes that the most common items an inspection can uncover include the following:

  • Maintenance problems
  • Poor plumbing or wiring
  • Issues with the home's ventilation
  • Potential trouble related to basements and water

Each of these could present a costly repair for a new homeowner.

3. Unclear contracts

The residential home sale contract should be detailed and very clear. It should outline important factors such as the financing terms, who will pay closing costs and when the closing date will be. If a seller cannot be clear on these factors, it could indicate that the process will not run smoothly. In some cases, a murky contract could even lead to a courtroom battle.

4. Unpleasant odors

Though some people choose to purchase a house without seeing it in person, experts advise visiting the property at least once. Certain issues may only be evident in person. For example, foul odors could reveal that the owners smoked in the house or that mold is present. These could be deal-breakers or, at the very least, reveal that work will have to be done in order to put the home in suitable selling condition.

5. Environmental issues

Though it may not be common, the presence of radon in a home can be devastating to someone's health. A simple radon test can reveal whether or not there are dangerous levels of this gas, which has been linked lung cancer.

The best way to ensure a home sale is sound is to work with the right professionals. People who have questions about this topic should speak to a real estate attorney in New York.