Warning: Do NOT Buy That House

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Reasons When Not to Buy a House

Blown away by awe-inspiring Golden Gate Bridge views from the ravishing Marina property you just saw? Raving about (and craving for!) the breathtaking Pacific Heights property you just checked out, which incidentally happens to be…  San Francisco’s most expensive home? Unfortunately, location, all round views or even price tag (especially) are not the only factors you can take into consideration, while choosing a property to buy – especially if you consider these factors in isolation.

Rather the focus should be on building a composite picture formed on the basis of multiple simultaneous considerations. And among these considerations, prime should be pitfalls that you must elude in the home buying process, in order to successfully avoid ending up with proverbial ‘lemons’.

Accordingly, herein we will focus on top warning signs that can easily serve as red flags for you on questionable properties which are best avoided.

1. Reasons when not to buy a house: Debt to Income

No matter how beautiful a home maybe, you must ALWAYS ensure that it is one you can actually afford. Otherwise, it won’t take time for that dream home of yours to sound and seem extremely ugly to you from all angles. In fact, we have seen relationships break up and families fall apart, simply because they opted for a property which was actually beyond their reach, and yet they tagged along with their purchase for a while, till they could no longer take it and simply caved in!

Do not let that happen to you. Ideally, you should look at things like Debt to Income ratio, which really should not be more than 36%. In other words, given all the debts you hold – credit card debts, car loan and the home loan you have taken on, you should not be spending more than 36% of your total income towards debt repayment. If you do, especially because of the home you have just bought, that might just turn out to be the lemon we forewarned you about.

2. Reasons when not to buy a house: Structural Defect

Remember the dude in Florida who got sucked into a sinkhole, complete with his bed? Of course you do not want that to happen to you and the best way to do so is to ensure that your home does not have any structural defect. For instance, in the case of that home in Florida, it had been identified as being in an area prone to sinkholes – that by itself is an indication of a structural defect.

Essentially, what this points towards is the absolute importance of robust foundations – you must check for that when it comes to any home you are looking to buy. Likewise, it makes perfect sense to avoid properties with flat roofs since they tend to have major leakage issues, which in turn can lead to mold development, not to speak of the varied levels of damage that they cause to properties. Same is the case with property developments that take place without city permits – you need to avoid all such properties like the plague.

Then, unique to San Francisco, it is very important that you double check for earthquake resistance; we are in a major seismic zone here and the last thing you want is to see the million dollar property you just bought develop cracks on it as a result of seismic activity.

3. Reasons when not to buy a house: Drainage

Poor drainage is a HUGE dampener when it comes to purchase of both new and old homes. No doubt old homes seem to showcase this problem more often but you will be surprised by the extent to which newly constructed buildings often throw up drainage issues in front of their erstwhile proud owners.

This is something which you must double check for, inspect thoroughly, and ideally have the seller or the broker party in question to give you an assurance in writing that drainage systems on the property are working perfectly.

4. Reasons when not to buy a house: Pest Control

A good home is one which is well protected – and sanitized from pests like termites. Otherwise, it really does not take much for the entire woodwork on the home to simply fall apart and collapse. And if it does, it will no doubt cost you an absolute bomb to get things done up again. So make sure that prior to finalizing the purchase of the home in question, it is adequately protected from pests.

Similarly, caulking, which is moisture control within the property, is just as important. Not doing so not only leads to the prospect of pests swarming the property, there are a whole host of problems which can surface, such as the occurrence of molds, passing on of infections, and so on.

5. Reasons when not to buy a house: Neighborhood

No matter how good a house may be, you do not want to buy it if it is in a neighborhood which you know has a dubious reputation. Here in SF, you don’t really want a home in The Tenderloin, often cited as the worst neighborhood in San Francisco, do you? The same holds true for many neighborhoods right across the country. The key is to select a home in a neighborhood where you can consider yourself safe and bring up your children, raise a family, with complete peace of mind.

At the same time, when it comes to neighborhoods, location plays a central role. Imagine being in a high profile area which is always chock-a-block with traffic, with little public transport in the vicinity? Or as a corollary, envisage being in neighborhoods which have ample public transport, almost uncomfortably so? Instances would include East Bay with BART and Amtrak running through as well as Silicon Valley and Peninsula region that have Caltrain going through – it will sure take a lot of getting used to, to live with all the noise which is generated, in spite of being in what are widely considered as some of the most prestigious neighborhoods in San Francisco.


These reasons when not to buy a house are surely not mutually exclusive in themselves but at the same time they do give a fair idea in terms of the pitfalls to avoid – or the impending signs to read, which may foretell a disaster of a house being considered for a purchase. And being forewarned is definitely being well prepared.

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