Jun 1, 2023
Savvy homebuyers always look at the sale history of a property before making an offer. Why? Aside from seeing how the home’s value has held up over the years, they want to learn how many times the house has changed hands.
Since the average homeowner stays in their home for eight years, it’s common to see a property go through a couple of sales if it’s several decades old. But when should a home’s sale history set off alarm bells?
As it turns out, buying a house that has been sold over and over again in a compressed time is a top concern for many homebuyers, including the Reddit user who posted the following question in r/RealEstate:
“The home we are interested in has sold 6 times in the past 10 years. Is this a major red flag?”
Users immediately chimed in with a variety of hot takes, hilarious observations, and useful advice based on their own experiences.
“… Seems like people noping out because there’s unanticipated traffic noise, an insane neighbor, or something else out of their control. Could just be a fluke but I’d spend time in the area and make sure you’re not missing something.”
“I was so close to buying a house next door to a lunatic. The seller had been in the house for less than a year. When asked why they were selling, they said they were moving out of state and needed to sell. The seller’s 8-year-old opened his mouth and said the next door neighbor was crazy and was often chasing people with a baseball bat.”
“… If it’s a small house in a ‘starter’ neighborhood then it might just be young couples moving in and out. The house next to me is like this. I see a newlywed couple move in, then I see a baby, then another baby, then a for sale sign. About every 3 years.”—Salyyoldtexan
“Go to the house. Get out of your car and walk around the streets. Plan on spending a few hours there. Talk to the people living near the house. Ask if it’s haunted. Ask why it’s been sold so many times. Talk to old people. They’ll know.”
“Bad karma houses exist. Check for multiple foreclosures, divorces, or deaths. Chances are flippers have hidden the problems. Pull permits. It’s a risk, but if you can get it cheap enough it might be worth it.”
“Check with your Realtor® to see if they can locate the old MLS listings. You can potentially see the state of the home each time it was sold by looking at pictures and descriptions.”—BeardonBoards
Is a house that’s been sold multiple times in a few years cause for concern?
If the home you have your eyes on has made the rounds several times, follow the house’s paper trail. Every single property has one.
“A house that changes hands frequently can be a red flag as it can indicate potential problems with the property, the neighborhood, or the market,” says Denis Smykalov, a broker at Wolsen Real Estate.
If you’re faced with this situation, Smykalov says you should tackle the issue on two fronts.
“Have your agent investigate the reason the property keeps changing hands by reviewing public records and other documents to determine any outstanding issues,” he says. “But you need to do your due diligence, too. Have a home inspector review the property, hire a real estate attorney to review the documents, and talk to your agent about the local market and property values to see if there’s an issue there.”
Other experts believe that such a house isn’t necessarily a red flag. But buyers should proceed with caution.
“In addition to going through house disclosure documents, which are required to include material defects like a leaky roof, you can call the agents that represented sellers previously to find out what they know,” says Desiree Avila, a real estate agent at Charles Rutenberg Realty in Fort Lauderdale, FL. “They are legally required to disclose known material defects.”
Ask your real estate agent to help you look through past property records to identify the previous sellers’ agents.
Once you get to the end of your investigation, you might find that everything checks out with the house. If that’s the case, congrats! Move ahead and enjoy your new digs.