Buying a home is a huge investment decision, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. So before you put in an offer on a house you like, it’s important that you conduct a thorough inspection. In doing so, you can avoid a long and drawn out process.
5 Issues and Problems to Look For
It’s easy to get caught up in the cosmetic details and aesthetic features of a home. And while these do impact your perceptions of a house, they’re far from the most important elements. Cosmetic issues can be tweaked or changed with very little effort. Issues with structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and other major systems are much costlier and more time-intensive to address.
Before putting in an offer on any house, here are some of the issues you should keep an eye out for:
Foundation damage is one of the most serious problems you’ll ever encounter in a home. As a prospective buyer, you want to be certain there are no visible signs of foundation damage before putting in an offer.
“Foundation problems are like money pits for potential homebuyers,” McGraw Realtors explains. “Sticking doors or windows, visible cracks above window frames, and uneven floors are classic signs there are foundation problems.”
In addition to looking for signs of foundation issues on the home’s main floors, take a peek under the crawl space and/or around the exterior of the home’s foundation. Cracks and shifting may be signs of damage.
Windows That Need Replacing
Windows don’t last forever. The average window will last 10 to 20 years before it needs replacing. And since most windows are installed at the same time, this means you’ll eventually need to replace all of a home’s windows.
With a quick inspection, you can usually determine whether a house’s windows are on the way out. You can look for signs of rotting, soft spots, or splitting in the frames. If the panes show signs of staining or excess condensation, this may also be a sign. From the inside, run your fingers alongside the edges of the frame and feel for any signs of air seeping in from the outside.
Mold and Mildew
Mold and mildew aren’t something to mess around with. A cursory look on the outside of a house should reveal any sign of mildew on siding. And in most cases, this can be remedied with some simple soap and water. But what you really need to be on the lookout for is the presence of mold and mildew in bathrooms.
Mold and mildew in bathrooms can be a health hazard. It’s also a sign of poor ventilation and potential moisture problems (which may go deeper than surface level). Not all problems are serious, but you’ll want to investigate further.
Trust your senses – but only to an extent. If you walk into a house and notice a strong aroma of candles, cookies, or some other artificial scent, your antennas should go up. While not always the case, this is often a sign of a homeowner trying to mask a funny smell (such as musty odors, pet urine, or cigarette smoke). Take time to uncover any underlying issues that may be present.
Faded or Damaged Floors
Finally, be sure to glance down from time to time and take notice of the flooring. Carpet is easy to replace, but you’ll want to study hardwood flooring and look for signs of fading. If permitted, you may even pull up a section of a rug to look for indicators of fading or stains underneath.
Be Proactive With Common Problems
Homeowners – particularly first-time homeowners – often make the mistake of not inspecting certain elements of a home until the pre-closing walkthrough. However, this walkthrough takes place just hours before the actual closing. If a problem is discovered this late in the game, the closing has to be delayed. It’s inconvenient for you, the seller, the agents, the attorneys, and everyone else involved.
Make sure you do as much of an inspection as you possibly can prior to the final walkthrough. Ideally, this means doing some visual inspections yourself during your showings (though you won’t be allowed to touch or move personal belongings), as well as hiring a professional inspector to come through and provide a professional report.