Home Buyer Tips August 13, 2019

How to Spot Big Issues Before You Pay for a Home Inspection

Before you plop down $500-$800 for a home inspection, it really helps to identify obvious issues up front and determine if A) you are willing to buy the home despite them or B) the seller appears reasonable about addressing them. If neither of the above are yes, but you might want to keep looking rather than investing hard-earned dollars in an inspection that, at minimum, will bring up items that you can clearly see, and more likely, will unveil even more issues.

Taking a bit of time to do a quick personal inspection of the property you are ogling can help you make smarter decisions about when or whether to write that offer. This list includes bigger ticket items we often see come up in an inspection.


Indicators of bigger ticket items to be on the lookout for:

    • Evidence of moisture or water damage in and around showers or tubs and under sinks
    • Missing or cracked grout/caulk around the tub or shower (a major cause of rot in walls and the sub-floor)
    • Cracked, peeling or weathered exterior paint and caulking
    • Evidence of moisture or water damage around the exterior, especially at windows and doors
    • Heavy moss, sagging or a roof that looks near the end of its life span
    • Signs of improper drainage around the perimeter of home, driveway and yard
    • Unexplained mildew smell in the basement
    • Uneven floors or the appearance of leaning or sagging
    • Obvious remodeling completed with no permits on file (this is easy to lookup online), especially when involving opening or movement of walls, plumbing or electrical
    • Rotted or damaged deck/porch boards, stairs, railings, or supporting joists/structure
    • An aging heating/AC system (more than 15-18 years old and/or no recent maintenance stickers)
    • An aging hot water tank (more than 9-10 years old)
    • Aging appliances (more than 10-15 years old)
    • An electrical panel that appears modified by someone other than an electrician (obvious changes that don’t look proper, open breaker sections or loose wires)
    • Railings (inside or out) that are missing or not up to code (ie. your smaller toddler could fit through them)
    • Cracked or damaged foundations or retaining walls
    • Evidence of unstable soil/earth movement (slides, cracks or gaps, leaning supports/structure or trees)
    • Evidence of rodents (odor, droppings, chew marks or damage around exterior/vents)
    • Properties with a high likelihood for costly sewer line issues include those with very large trees near the most likely sewer line path and those more than forty years with no prior evidence of sewer line re-lining/replacement
    • Signs of home maintenance neglect such as broken or missing hardware or components, improperly functioning doors/locks


Not all these issues will turn out to be major expenditures, but they often can be. Better to note them early and decide if it makes sense to proceed with a more thorough professional inspection or walk away and save those dollars for a more likely candidate.


Here are a few great online resources to add to your knowledge base:








Of course, nothing tops having an experienced broker to guide you through the process. They’ve seen hundreds upon hundreds of homes and can help you identify the solid finds from the duds with gorgeous looking veneer.

Choosing the right broker can save you thousands on your home purchase. Whether through local market knowledge and pricing analysis allowing you to make a smarter offer, recommendations and resources to thoroughly conduct your due diligence and avoid costly mistakes, or savvy contract negotiation to help you get the terms you need, having a Windermere broker on your side is one advantage you can’t afford to sacrifice.


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