Forget Aesthetics: What Buyers Should REALLY Be Looking For When Viewing a Prospective House

Be on the Lookout for These Red Flags When Purchasing a Home

Home sellers may not always disclose the whole truth about the condition of their home. Instead of paying for five inspections on different homes, here is a great DIY pre-inspection list that can help you from unforeseen problems after you’ve purchased the home.

Pay close attention to foundation issues. Examine the foundation on both the interior and the exterior of the property. What you will be searching for are any cracks larger than 1/2″ which usually indicate that there may be some major structural problems; a sloping house, on the other hand, almost always represents water damage in the basement.

Keep your nose in the air. Pay attention to smells in each room of the house. If a home smells heavily of cleaning products, the seller is likely trying to hide a big problem. Remember, the house, and all of its problems are yours after the sale.

Be on guard for mildew and mold. You do not want to purchase a home with mildew problems. They’re very expensive to fix; besides the fact that they are major health hazards. Check for signs of mold when you view the house, espec
ially in the basement. Mold in the basement always indicates that there was at some point, excessive water damage.

Pay close attention to the roof. Be on the lookout for any missing, or falling shingles. Also be sure to check chimney. When you’re looking at the chimney, what you are searching for is any indication of settling from the house.  

Always check (and double check) the plumbing. Plumbing issues are very costly, and you don’t want to buy a house that has them. Check the water pressure by running the sinks and flushing the toilets at the same time. Low water flow indicates possible corroded pipes.

Doors that won’t open. If more than one door won’t close or swings open by itself, it may indicate a structural issue, such as a foundation that has settled or framing that is caving.

Locked doors. Inquire about any doors that are locked or marked “off limits” during your home tour, as this can include “secret” problems.

Wiring. Ensure all the switches and outlets in the house function properly. Flickering lights, circuits that don’t work and hot outlets or faceplates are all obvious indications of wiring problems. 

Water Tanks. Water tanks should be 18″ off the ground if in a garage. It is important that the water tanks are up-to-code. It isn’t a bad idea either to bring your designer with you to inspection, as they are familiar with all of the codes as well.

Windows. Open and close all windows to make sure they work, and be sure to check for cracks and water in between double-paned windows.

Potential Hazards. This is extremely important. You want to buy a home that is safe. Look at the furnace for cracks and rust, which can leak carbon monoxide. Furnace flames should be blue. In older homes in particular, check the for asbestos wrapped vent pipes on the furnace. See: Environmental Hazards on the Mind of the Buyer.

2 thoughts on “Forget Aesthetics: What Buyers Should REALLY Be Looking For When Viewing a Prospective House”

  1. Great article! Here are some other obvious signs of mold or the potential for mold, to be on the lookout for when you’re inspecting a potential home. Keep your eyes peeled for standing water in the basement, water marks on walls (particularly recent-looking stains), or musty smells (particularly in bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, basements, cabinets with plumbing, or other areas with plumbing).

  2. Definitely check the basement when you are looking at the house. The basement is always a good indicator regarding the health of the whole house. If the basement smells funky and has mold, you can bet there likely are problems in the rest of the house too. Usually if an owner doesn’t keep up one part of the house, they also have neglected other important things too.


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