As a homebuyer, have you ever toured a house and wondered what, precisely, the sellers are trying to hide from you? As Washington, D.C. real estate agents, we here at Glass House Real Estate have heard it all and witnessed most of it.
From minor nuisances to significant flaws, here are six things that homeowners try to cover up.
1 – Sour odors. Homeowners are embarrassed by some of the foul odors in their home. They try to hide odors from cigarette smoke to diaper pails by creative measures. Baking cookies, burning candles, and diffusing essential oils mask the smell temporarily. However, it usually just results in a funky blend of sweet and sour. This tactic means that buyers may question the actual source of the smell, as some smells—mold, mildew, or rot—indicate problems with the house.
2 – Pet stains. Going hand in hand with the funky smells are pet stains. Homeowners attempt to remove the stains, at least initially. When that doesn’t work, they will toss down an area rug or move around the furniture in an attempt to conceal the telltale dark ring. This casts doubts in buyers’ minds—if they are covering up something as relatively easy to fix as a pet stain, what else are they hiding?
3 – Cracks in the walls or ceilings. Sellers often chalk up cracks in the walls or ceilings to the house settling and will use drywall compound, a spackling knife, and fresh paint to conceal these marks. The problem with this is that cracks can be minor, but they can also be a sign of serious issues such as the foundation shifting.
4 – Water damage or mildew. If you notice the ceilings recently painted, especially in a bathroom or laundry room, it’s possible that the seller is covering up recently completed water damage repair work or rings where they had mold or mildew removed.
This is a deliberate cover-up of something that should be in the disclosure documents. That’s not to say that the seller didn’t disclose it…they are just hoping you won’t notice it.
5 – A noisy street. Have you ever walked into tour a house and the seller left on the TV or had music playing? That seller realizes that most buyers will be polite and not turn it off. The problem is, the sellers could be trying to distract you from noise outside of the home.
The source of this noise could be an airport, a large family with 10 children screaming on a trampoline next door, or street noise. While these are completely out of the seller’s control, it could turn out to be a nuisance for the future homeowner, as well.
6 – Rotting exterior wood. While you’re scoping out the home’s exterior, take a look at any freshly painted trim work, window moldings, doors, and decks.
Two or three coats of exterior paint slapped up there hides damages resulting from rotten or cracked wood and insect damage. While it’s possible that they just painted to boost their curb appeal, give the paint job a meticulous look.
Protect yourself from cover-ups
If you suspect that a home you’ve toured has been cleverly altered to misdirect you, well, you might be right. Don’t mention anything about it while you’re inside the home (nanny cams, creepy am I right?). Once you’ve left the premises, discuss it with your Realtor.
About Glass House Real Estate: Glass House Real Estate is a modern, more affordable way to buy and sell a home in Washington, D.C. Our team of accomplished agents proves that affordability doesn’t have to come at the expense of service or results. We help you achieve your goals for a fraction of the cost. Unlike typical discount real estate firms, we are local and part of your community. Let us reward you with exceptional results.
Khalil Alexander El-Ghoul is Principal Broker of Glass House Real Estate. Reach him at 571-235-4821 or firstname.lastname@example.org.