6 “Beige Flags” You’ll See at an Open House, According to Real Estate Agents

published Jul 12, 2023
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When you tour an open house, you probably know some of the red flags to be on the lookout for — like a water stain on the ceiling that’s indicative of leaky pipes or super-strong air fresheners that might be covering up a musty smell. But what about the beige flags — TikTok’s newest vernacular used to describe potentially innocuous things that aren’t really good or bad but that definitely give you pause?

Like much of TikTok’s lingo, beige flags commonly relate to relationships. Beige flags are in a similar category to “icks,” but they’re not exactly turnoffs. And because there are so many parallels between dating and house hunting (namely the idea of dream homes — hubba, hubba) I thought it’d be fun to ask real estate agents about their “beige” flags that they’ve seen pop up at open houses. Here’s what they had to say.

Doors That Are Hard To Push Closed 

Doors that are tough to push closed are pretty common in the summer, says Jason Edwards, chair of the Agent Editorial Board at Agent Advice. “The frame expands and leaves no space for the door to close,” he says. On the other hand, a door that doesn’t close easily could be a construction mistake coming down to faulty measurements. (In most cases, you can shave a little off the top of the door to resolve it, he says.) While this is a fault that makes you pause and take a second look, it’s not necessarily a deal breaker. 

A Bonafide Doll House 

A lot of people collect dolls (something you come to realize when you show homes) across all kinds of markets and price points, says Niklas Hackstein, an agent on the Leonard Steinberg Team at Compass in NYC. “They’re definitely an innocuous collector’s item, but a whole wall of them will stop you in your tracks,” he says. 

Credit: Lana Kenney

Personal Items Left Out in the Bathroom

Generally in real estate, you want to de-personalize as much as possible in showings so that potential buyers can see themselves living in the home, Hackstein says. Seeing indications of someone else’s hygiene routine is bound to throw you off a little. 

“One of the first beige flags I remember noticing in my career is when people would leave their toothbrushes out during open houses or in their marketing photography,” Hackstein says. “Same thing with full trash cans. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but those are two items that feel slightly too personal.”  

Of course, he acknowledges, his beige flags could be someone else’s green flags or red flags.  

Wonky Floor Plans

While not complete deal-breakers, there are some home layouts that feel not so functional, says Nelvia Bullock, a Charlotte, North Carolina-based principal agent with Compass. This could be a laundry room right off the kitchen, odd placements of closets and pantries, pull-down attics in bedrooms, or street-facing bathrooms.

Mismatched Door Handles

“One common beige flag I spot at open houses is mismatched door handles or hardware fixtures,” says Derek Morgan, chief real estate officer at Unreal Estate. “This isn’t necessarily a sign of negligence, but it indicates the homeowner may have taken a DIY approach to repairs or updates.” Unique hardware though does break from builder-grade convention — it’s neither a dealbreaker or a selling point, he says.

Dead Light Bulbs

You can assume the best: The owners just haven’t gotten around to changing out the lightbulbs. But this turns into a red flag if the lights are burning out quickly because that could be the sign of an electric problem, says NYC real estate agent Matthew Melinger who just launched his own real TikTok real estate show called The Thirteenth Floor.