Uncategorized January 10, 2024

Playing Hide-and-Seek During Your Home Search: (How Sellers Could Be Hiding House Problems)

When you’re searching for a new home, you hope everything you see is on the up and up. After all, aren’t sellers supposed to disclose any issues they know about the home? But, what if some sellers decide to get a little sneaky and cover up problems? 


Here are a few things to watch for that could signal problems lurking below the surface. 

8 Ways Sellers Try to Hide House Problems 

Most sellers keep things honest. It’s simply not worth the potential legal hassles or repercussions to hide issues instead of disclosing them. But sometimes a few unscrupulous sellers will try to remain hush-hush.  


They paint or panel over issues, cover stains with large furniture and artwork or schedule oddly timed showings. If you see any of these things when you’re house hunting, they might be trying to conceal potential problems. 

  1. Odd Paint Jobs (Especially Recent Ones)

If you notice a fresh paint job or one that seems out of place, it could be hiding something. It’s common for sellers to give their homes a refresh with paint before they list.  


However, typically, they paint all of the rooms. So if only one room is newly painted, or even more eyebrow-raising, one wall, ask why they chose to paint just that spot. 

  1. Weirdly Placed Artwork or Furniture

Furniture or artwork that seems out of place are other potential red flags. A seller could be trying to mask unsightly stains, water damage, cracks, and other problems. Don’t hesitate to move Items and look behind things when you’re scoping out houses. 

  1. Random Paneling or Siding

Another giveaway that something could be amiss is paneling, siding, or trim work that seems unnecessary or in an awkward spot. For example, perhaps sellers had termite damage on a particular wall. They may have called a professional service to get rid of the termites. But instead of disclosing this information or repairing the damage, they covered it up. 

  1. Fans of Heaters in Certain Rooms

Beware if you spot a fan or space heater in some rooms. Spotting these items doesn’t automatically signal an issue. However, fans and heaters could indicate the presence of hot or cold spots. These spots could be due to poor insulation or issues with the HVAC, ductwork, etc. 

  1. Adding Intense Scents

It’s common during open houses and showings to create a pleasant scent. Agents or sellers might bake a batch of cookies or light a candle to create a homey feeling for buyers.  


But if sellers are adding lots of scents to their space, this is questionable. Excessive amounts of candles, diffusers, air fresheners, or other intense fragrances could be an attempt to hide pet odors, smoke, mildew, or other unpleasant smells. 

  1. Cosmetic Upgrades That Don’t Make Sense

Anytime you see an upgrade or addition that doesn’t make sense, question it. It could simply be that the sellers have unique style preferences.  However, it could also signal underlying issues. For example, strangely placed wallpaper or a brand new faucet that doesn’t match anything else might mean the sellers performed a hasty last-minute DIY repair. 

  1. Patches of Dead Grass or Oddly Placed Items in the Yard

During the 1930s, oil heating became popular in homes, especially after WWII. However, it started tapering off in the 1960s. If a home was built before 1975, there’s a chance that at some point there was an oil tank on the property.  


Typically, the tanks were in basements or underground. If the tank is still buried, the oil could contaminate the soil. Instead of removing the tank properly, which could cost thousands, some homeowners choose to leave it.  


You might see the top of the fill pipe sticking out of the ground (although some homeowners saw it off close to the ground, fill it, and cover it with dirt). But other giveaways are a large dead patch of grass or weirdly placed items in the yard. For example, you see a random patio chair and table in the middle of the lawn or a garden statue where there is no garden. 

  1. Strategically Placed Items in Storage Areas 

Another place to be on the lookout for hidden problems is storage areas, like basements, garages, and attics. These rooms are sometimes crammed full of items and it’s almost impossible to see walls, floors, etc. But if you notice a lone tower of boxes or clutter piled up in one spot while the rest of the area remains clear, this is odd.  


Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Sellers, “Why?” 

If you see anything confusing, odd, or strange, ask the sellers about it. If you don’t ask, they have no reason to tell you if they’re already trying to hide something. But if you ask, then you at least have a chance of getting some information. Also, don’t be bashful when it comes to moving things around during a house showing.  


Peek behind that weirdly placed artwork or strangely positioned bookshelf. Open cabinets and drawers and look under rugs that don’t seem like they belong. Remember, nobody cares more about your potential new home than you do. Therefore, it’s up to you to dig deep and get the answers you need before making any offers.