While the real estate market already shifted much of its business online, the Covid-19 pandemic magnified that. If you’re currently searching for a home, you’re probably relying heavily on online listings and virtual viewings. And while it’s convenient and useful, the real estate cyberworld presents new challenges as well. Take note of the following red flags when searching for a home online. 

1. There is a Lack of Photos

The first suspicious sign that should raise a red flag in your online home search is a lack of photos. The seller’s objective is to make the home look desirable. If photos of certain rooms are missing, you need to truly ask yourself why. It’s possible the seller felt lazy when creating the listing. But it’s even more likely that there’s something they don’t want you to see. 

2. The Photos are Edited

Sellers may filter their photos to make a space look brighter than it really is. When searching for a home online, you shouldn’t be seeing the house through a rose-colored lens. Be aware of coloring that seems off. 

3. A Wide-Angle Lens is Used 

Using a wide-angle lens is a fairly dishonest practice that can make a room seem much more spacious than in reality. Especially if you’re unable to visit the location in person, you should look for warning signs that the photos have been stretched. Check the edges of the picture to see if anything is warped out of shape. 

4. The Photos Seem Cropped

You can’t always fit the entirety of a room into a picture. But if the photo seems oddly cut off, as if it was intentionally cropped, chances are there is something the lister is hiding. 

5. The Window Shades are Closed

Buying a home is a big deal, and you should rightly be provided with as many details as possible to make a sound decision. When searching for a home online, a major red flag is closed window shades. As you’re unable to open them yourself from behind a screen, it leaves you wondering- what’s behind the curtain that the seller isn’t showing you? It’s safe to assume it isn’t pretty. 

6. The House Looks Flipped

Purchasing a flipped home is not inherently bad. In fact, it’s often a great way to get a modernized space at a reasonable price. But it’s your responsibility to look into the constructor’s reputation to validate the quality of the work. Flipped houses can be attractive at face value but a total wreck underneath. The challenge of determining the house quality is duplified when you can’t physically see it. 

7. The Owner History is Choppy

These days the owner history of a home is usually publicized with the listing. A long owner history may not be a sudden red flag. However, if each owner only spent a year or so on the property, there might be a dark reason that drove them all away. 

8. The Wording is Carefully Curated

Listers will try to upsell their properties at all costs. Don’t take the positive language at face value. “Cozy” can mean cramped, “updated” can signify a paint job, and “charming” can equate to old. 

9. The House is in a Flood Zone

Water damage is a homeowner’s worst nightmare. Confirm that the house in question is or is not in a flood zone– or purchase at your own risk.