10 Most Common Seller Tricks
Unfortunately, it can be difficult when unscrupulous sellers use tricks to hide defects. Here are the 10 most common seller tricks, and how you can recognise each one of the issues.
A home may be the biggest purchase you’ll ever make. So it makes sense to do everything possible to ensure you’re making a sound investment.
Painting over problem areas.
Fresh paint itself is not a sign of dishonesty, but it can be used to cover water stains, mould and more. Many honest sellers use paint to update or freshen up walls. Take note if many areas were recently painted and mention that to the home inspector. You can also ask the seller for before-and-after photos.
Choosing to remain in the dark about potential problems are seller tricks.
By law, a seller cannot be held liable for problems he or she didn’t know about. Thus, a seller trick is not to allow home inspections to be performed when it’s time to sell. Another seller trick is not to agree to a reasonable inspection contingency time period. Some will even tell potential buyers they don’t want to know what the home inspection reveals. This is all the more reason to get a thorough home inspection. It’s a small price to pay to ensure you’re making a sound investment.
Not mentioning major issues created by former occupants.
Rental homes tend to take more of a beating than owner-occupied homes. And a flipped home may have been in really rough shape before renovations occurred. The house may have been a former meth factory! Sound advice for potential buyers is to talk with neighbours about the home’s former life if it was a flip, or occupied by renters.
Downplaying any concerns you raise.
Consider it a red flag if a seller brushes aside your questions. This is often a seller trick when they don’t want to admit they haven’t kept up with maintenance and repairs. If a seller minimizes issues, check for signs of spotty maintenance like old air filters, broken appliances and crumbling masonry. You should ask for documentation such as invoices and guarantees for repairs.
Seller tricks strategically placing decor over problem areas.
Sneaky sellers will block problem areas with artwork, shelves, furniture and mats. A seller trick is to stack moving boxes around areas they don’t want potential buyers to see. Take note of any furniture or decor that seems out of place, and don’t be afraid to ask the seller to move anything so you can see things with your own eyes.
Disguising problems with new carpet.
Carpet can reveal a lot, if there were pets in the house, damp or if the house had mould. Like adding a fresh coat of paint, the new carpet does not necessarily mean it is a seller trick trying to hide something. But the chance always exists that it may be! That’s why it pays to carefully read over the seller disclosure to learn about any known issues with the house.
Seller trick using new construction as a decoy.
Notice lots of new tiling and other signs of a recent renovation? If so, you might want to ask the seller why and give your home inspector a head’s up. Dishonest sellers will often go on a home improvement spree to camouflage issues. Fortunately, a good home inspector will still spot them. Hire a certified home inspector. A certified home inspector has the training and experience to discover this type of issue.
Removing evidence of damage.
Another seller trick is to hide damage from water, termites and more are by removing any sign of trouble, such as damp areas and termite-damaged skirting boards. Because there’s no way to detect issues if a seller removed the evidence, hire a home inspector who uses an infrared camera. An infrared camera can sometimes detect mould, overheated wires, termite damage and water damage.
Playing “dumb” seller tricks
Some sellers will have memory loss. it’s a seller trick not to remember when something like the roof or geyser was replaced. Others will give you a ballpark guess. Furthermore, others, like flippers, will claim they never lived in the house and don’t know. In these instances, push for answers and consider making needed disclosures a part of the purchase. Your home inspector can tell you the age of appliances, systems and structural components and when they’ll need to be replaced.
Another one of the seller tricks by sellers who have something to hide is sometimes barred access to the roof spaces, circuit breakers, storerooms and more. Therefore, restricting access to you or your home inspector is a big red flag! Definitely think twice about doing business with anyone who won’t give you an unfettered look at a house you’re considering.
Adapted from an article by Amanda Prischak
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