author Call Us +506 2289 5125

Compare Listings

3 Red Flags that will make you run from buying a property

3 Red Flags that will make you run from buying a propertyBuying a home is like a love affair, you don’t want to see any red flags. Some buyers don’t realize that a love affair can turn into a money pit easily.

An experienced realtor usually knows when buyers fall in love with a house as soon as they walk in. In my opinion, it’s important your agent also warns you about any red flags. I know, some agents won’t tell you anything and want you to make an offer and close as quickly as possible.

We, at GoDutch Realty, always recommend a home inspection. But sometimes it not even necessary to get to the point of making an offer. Why go through the process of making an offer if you can stop being in love before even getting engaged?

Selling real estate is our business, but we do everything we can to protect our clients. We like our clients to trust us and know that we have the necessary experience, the reason for this article

There are 3 red flags, warning signals that should be enough for a buyer to run from purchasing a property:

1. Cracks in walls

Large cracks in walls are the first of the red flags that should make you walk away. BUT, there is a difference between cracks created by foundation problems and settlement cracks. There are also hairline cracks. Now, you’ll say “what do I know about cracks”!

No worries, you’ll recognize serious cracks:

a. It is very common to see fine cracks in the cement plaster – repello in Spanish. If the builders did not apply enough water for two days after the plastering, you will see very fine cracks. Those are not dangerous and only cosmetic.

b. A loose tape is a very common, but small, problem where plaster (drywall) connects to cinder block walls. Plus, you’ll find ceilings with loose tape. It is a matter of re-engraving and painting, it is another cosmetic problem.

c. Jagged cracks, step cracks, and 45-degree angle cracks are usually structural movement or settlement cracks. They are usually harmless. If those cracks are large, there can be a shortage of reinforcing bars in the wall. Now you want to start paying attention and checking if there is a repeating pattern in the whole house.

d. Cracked beams and columns are the serious red flags you want to run away from. If these are in bad shape, there is a serious underground problem.

3 Warning signals that should stop you from buying a property

2. Roof problems

A bad roof and having to replace it is a huge expense. You really don’t know what the condition of a roof is until you get it up (or under it). If the roof is barrel tile, there is probably a sheet metal roof underneath. Most barrel tile roofs are for decoration only. In Costa Rica, homeowners pay a bonus to find barrel tiles that look old.

So don’t be surprised if you see moss, algae, and small plants growing on the roof. While that’s a bad sign in Florida, for example, you’ll only see that here in luxury homes.

There are some red flags or warning signs that you can look for, without having to call a home inspector:

a. Many houses have wooden trusses – cerchas in Spanish. Wooden roof trusses are usually softwood and a delicious termite dessert. Look for fine sawdust – comején in Spanish on floors and furniture. That will show you that there may be a serious problem with the ceiling mount.

b. If the ceilings are drywall, look for moisture stains on the ceilings. If you see only one in the whole house, there is no need to worry. BUT, if you find stains or even patches in almost every room, start running.

c. Well-maintained gutters look painted. Look for rust stains or even holes in the gutters.

3. Electrical and plumbing problems

Old faucets can be replaced, as well as bulbs. Some areas of Costa Rica have large power fluctuations and power outages. Electrical kitchen devices damage easily and are quite expensive in Costa Rica.

Only condos are on central sewer plants. There are very few neighborhoods in the country that have a public sewer system. Older homes may not have PVC pipes but gray septic and gray water pipes. The vast majority of single-family homes are located in a septic tank on their own property.

Here are some tips that can show you red flags for electrical and plumbing issues:

a. Check the breaker box. If each breaker is well identified with more than 6 switches, and the box isn’t falling apart, you’re probably good to go. Older homes often have only one or two breakers for electrical outlets. 30 years ago, we used very few kitchen appliances, a television, and no computers. If there is no breaker box and just a switch, RUN.

b. Make sure all lights are off and there are no running appliances. Then check the power meter to see if there is still power output.

c. Flush all the toilets in the house and see if the water flows fast enough. If the water is flowing slowly or even gurgling, there is probably a septic problem. This could be a simple septic tank cleanup, but it can also be a leech field problem. If that’s the case, there is a serious problem.

d. Ask the owner where the septic tank is located. If it smells bad, run.


Hopefully, these 3 red flags will come in handy so you can check for basic issues that are generally expensive to fix. These problems should prevent you from bidding on a property unless the seller is willing to sell cheaply.

As I said before, our agents always recommend hiring a home inspector. Houses in Costa Rica are purchased “as is”. But a home inspection report will tell you that it’s better to run or have at least a list of repairs than you need to fix before you move out. Reading this smart guide for buying property will also give you a helping hand.

Save yourself a lot of headaches and hire an expert real estate agent. Contact us now.

If you like this blog, subscribe to my newsletter by clicking the banner below.

Click here to subscribe to Ivo's Blog

I DO want to remind our readers that we appreciate any referrals you can send us. Also, please remember the GoDutch Realty agents when you talk about your home in Costa Rica, we appreciate it.

We Love your Referrals at GoDutch Realty

Facebook Comments

Ivo Henfling

If you are looking to buy a home in Costa Rica or invest in a condo anywhere in the central Valley, or looking for any property for sale in Escazu, you need to call me. I have been selling real estate in Escazu for over 20 years and can show you hundreds of happy buyers of real estate in Escazu and other areas. To me, a deal is not a good deal unless both buyer and seller are happy.

Related posts

How important are nearby amenities in your home purchase?

Often homebuyers in Costa Rica forget to check on nearby amenities before they fall in love with a...

Continue reading
Ivo Henfling
by Ivo Henfling

Why do most homes in Costa Rica do not have an open floor plan?

Have you ever wondered why large single-family homes in Costa Rica do not have an open floor plan?...

Continue reading
Ivo Henfling
by Ivo Henfling

Is Vinyl Plank Flooring Right For Your Costa Rican Home?

Have you thought about using vinyl plank flooring in your home? Costa Rica is characterized by the...

Continue reading
Ivo Henfling
by Ivo Henfling

Join The Discussion

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.