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If you’re thinking about buying a home, consider how well cared-for the place appears.

Cosmetic problems like torn carpets and annoyances like leaky faucets can be signals that the owner has neglected the house. Small troubles can be a signal to look for more serious signs of neglect.

If you’re trying to sell your home, make it look like you care about it. Repair everything, from huge headaches like a leaky basement to minor menaces like windows that are hard to open, to make the best impression on the shoppers who stop by with their realtors.

Once you do the repairs, consider hiring a home inspector to give your house a thorough once-over. The inspector can point out hidden problems that you might not have noticed, like unsafe electrical outlets and mold. Here are some sure signs of neglect that can (should) scare away potential buyers:

  1. Overgrown shrubs and plants that climb out of control all over the walls. Aside from covering the walls so potential buyers can’t inspect them, vines that attach themselves to your home’s exterior walls with aerial rootlets can damage the stucco by pulling out loose pieces.
  2. Weeds between the pavers or stones on your patio, driveway or sidewalk.
  3. Damaged exterior walls. Usually, damage occurs in small patches that are fairly easy to touch up. If nobody has repaired the small stuff, chances are, the big problems are untended as well.
  4. Loose toilets that rock back and forth, flow incessantly or that flush themselves every few hours. Potential buyers often flush the toilets to learn how well they work.
  5. Leaky faucets and clogged drains in the bathroom, kitchen or laundry room.
  6. Cracked or chipped paint; water stains on ceilings or walls. These are telltale signs of neglect. They’re simple to repair or cover, yet nobody has bothered.
  7. Missing or rotten trim around windows, baseboards or doors, or cracked windows. These are simple maintenance issues.
  8. Cosmetic issues like dirty walls, baseboards and trim. It’s simple to scrub off fingerprints or brush some touch-up paint over well-worn areas.
  9. Torn or peeling wallpaper. If the wallpaper also has an outdated pattern, you can bet it’s been on the wall for too long.
  10. Dirty bathroom caulking or grout. You can try to bleach it clean, but it might be easier to replace it.

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