5 Red Flags to Look For When Buying A Bay Area Home


The Bay Area Real Estate Market Is Hotter Than Ever, but That Doesn’t Mean You Should Ignore the Details

Northern California is going strong as one of the hottest real estate markets in the country. Buyers from all over the world are clamoring to own a piece of Bay Area real estate paradise.

This heavy buyer competition can lead to some hasty decisions. Before making an offer, buyers need to pay special attention to any red flags on the property. Red flags aren’t necessarily deal-breakers; they’re just indicators that more questions should be asked.

Here are the top 5 red flags to watch for when buying in the Bay Area.

1. Poor Drainage

It doesn’t rain year-round but winter rains can be heavy and proper drainage is critical. 

Take a moment to make sure the overall grading slopes away from the home. Then check for any water pooling on the property and any water stains on basement walls. These could be signs of poor drainage that may warrant a closer inspection. 

2. Stains and Touch-up Paint

Stains on walls and ceilings can indicate water intrusion. There may be faulty plumbing, or obstruction may be causing damming on the roof. 

Fresh touch-up paint should also be scrutinized. It could be hiding tell-tale stains.

That isn’t to say that all fresh paint is a red flag. It’s common for entire San Francisco real estate homes to be painted for a quick facelift before going on the market. But if only one wall or area has fresh paint, you may want to run a moisture meter over the area to make sure there is no water intrusion.  

3. Strong Scents, Good and Bad

A musty smell could be a sign of mold or mildew. 

But you should also be wary of attempts to mask possible odors. Naturally, the homeowners want the home to have a pleasant smell, so there will probably be an oil diffuser or candle or two. But if every room has a plug-in, or if windows are wide open during weather, it’s worth asking why.

4. Doors that Don’t Sit Right in Their Frames

This is subtle, but doors that hang slightly askew in their frames could be an indication of an issue with the structure or the foundation. 

If you notice that the doors aren’t sitting squarely in their frames, you may want to hire a structural engineer to inspect the home.

5. For Sale Signs Up and Down the Street

During a buyer’s market, it’s common to see For Sale signs everywhere.  

But in the Bay Area real estate's hot seller’s market? Properties are selling so quickly, For Sale signs don’t stay up long. 

So if you see lots of For Sale signs around a property in this seller’s market, you should ask more questions. Is something else going on in this area? Is there a reason buyers aren’t jumping on these properties? 
It could just be a fluke. But, like all the red flags on this list, it’s worth taking the time to look a little deeper. 

Don’t ignore the red flags. And don’t run from them. Just take a beat to inspect them.


We offer the highest level of expertise and service with integrity. Alicia and Andrew are one of the leading real estate agents in the San Francisco Bay Area, specializing in Hillsborough, Burlingame, San Mateo and surrounding communities. Alicia and Andrew's passion, local reputation among their peers and strong ties to their community make them a true asset to anyone buying or selling a home.

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