Home Buying: Are Sellers Trying to Hide Hidden Issues?

hidden issues

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Whether you are a first-time buyer or a real estate mogul, there are still plenty of issues that can happen along the home buying process, including finding issues that weren’t disclosed by the buyer. Even though the homeowner is required to sign a disclosure document, it doesn’t always mean that it’s accurate – whether they know about the issues or not.

When it comes to issues sellers often try to downplay or hide, there are a few common ones that home inspectors and prospective buyers typically find. We’ve listed them below and how to spot them to save you from dealing with issues down the road.

  • Water damage – Finding water stains doesn’t necessarily mean that there is still an active leak, but it does mean at one point there was, and we all know that water can lead to mold. Homeowner’s can easily hide water stains and mold with furniture, decorations, or by staging a room a certain way. Always look behind any easily moveable furniture and shine flashlights into any dark areas where items may be conveniently piled up. If the home smells moldy or there are visible cracks that water could seep in, make sure to investigate further, even if it means having large pieces of furniture or decorations moved by the buyer. Paint can also hide damage, so look for any spots that look like they were freshly painted and give them some additional attention.
  • Contaminated Soil – This is more common in older homes built before 1975 when installing oil tanks in the ground to free up interior space was more common. A compromised oil tank can easily contaminate soil, which is very expensive to remove. Some sellers may try to hide the existence of underground oil tanks, especially if they have a new one installed already. If the old tank hasn’t been removed, it could still contaminate the soil. Look for fill pipes that may be present and sticking up from the ground. Also note that many insurance carriers will not cover you if there is an active underground oil tank.
  • Foundation Issues – Does the home look a little uneven around door frames, there is sloping in the floors, or do you notice a lot of cracks on the walls or ceilings? These could be a sign of foundation problems. Not only are they costly to fix but they could make the house unsafe for the future buyer. Unsafe foundations could prevent doors from closing properly and even cause support beams to crack under stress.  
  • Nuisance Neighbors – This could include anything from barking dogs, noisy kids, to illegal activity. It could be a big reason why the seller wants to move, and since it’s not part of their property, they may not disclose it. A good idea to get a feel for the neighbors is to visit the area several times during different time periods. If a neighbor happens to be out walking a dog or doing yard work, don’t hesitate to ask them a few questions about the area.
  • Odd temperature issues – Is one area of the home freezing cold while another area is sweltering hot? During a walk through not only look for obvious temperature changes, but also changes in how dry or damp the air feels. Many times the issue could be with the insulation –  it’s not adequate for the space OR the homeowner may have added on to the home without the proper permits and the job isn’t up to code. 

Make sure you have a licensed home inspector go through any home that you are considering purchasing. Not only do you want to find out about potential issues before you purchase the home, but you’ll want to know what the costs are to fix them and whether it’s still worth purchasing the home. You may be able to negotiate the buying price after the home inspection. If you have questions about obtaining a mortgage or the different types availablegive us a call or stop by – we’d love to help you.


Jennifer Ives-Groebl
Vice President, Senior Mortgage Lender
NMLS MLO ID: 532621

Author: Jennifer Ives-Groebl

Jennifer has been with Litchfield Bancorp since 1994 and was promoted to Assistant Vice President and Senior Mortgage Originator shortly after graduating the Connecticut School of Finance & Management in 1998. Stationed in both our Torrington and Litchfield locations, Jennifer is well known and respected in the local residential real estate community and recognized as a resource for some of the more difficult transactions. Jennifer resides in Torrington and is actively involved in the local community. She is a long time member of the Torrington/Winsted Rotary club and is currently serving as its Assistant Treasurer. Jennifer is involved with Litchfield County Board of Realtors and serves as chair of the Audit Committee and a member of the Public Relations Committee. She is also a member of the Fuessenich Park Partnership; and through Education Connection, has participated in the Mentoring Program.