Buying an Illinois-area home to live in or use as an investment property is a considerable undertaking. Unless you know what separates a good investment from a money pit, you may very well end up with a real estate fiasco after signing all the paperwork.

To help ensure your success, Financial Samurai lays out several warning signs of bad properties and bad investments. Know what hazards to look out for on the real estate road ahead.

Brief ownership history

Before touring a home, look into the previous owners. Specifically, take a look at how long the previous owners held on to the property. Brief periods of ownership, three years or fewer, could indicate potential issues with the home, ones the current seller may not disclose.

Exterior tilting and cracking

Pay just as much attention to the property exterior as you do the interior. The foundation could have hidden cracks, ones that are not easy to discern. Additionally, the home could have tilting issues, which you can identify with a leveler. Depending on the results, you may want to bring in a structural engineer to get to the bottom of why the property is off-balance.

Masked odors

A pleasant-smelling room is inviting and relaxing. Unfortunately, air freshers, candles and the like can also mask noxious odors, ones the seller would rather hide than tell you about. Let rooms air out so you can determine whether there is mold, a raw sewage leak or another smelly issue.

Music used to cover up noises 

Much like air freshers, music can also cover up issues with the house and the neighborhood. Sellers may use music to cover up traffic on a noisy street, the neighbor’s barking dog or incessant noises in the house.

This information is only intended to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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