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Home Buyers: Red Flags

Whether this is your first home or you are an experienced home buyer, here are some red flags you will want to watch for as you are looking for the right home to purchase. These red flags are not necessarily dealbreaker, but they are indicative of home conditions that may require repair and replacement, and should be factored into your offer price or ultimately the final sale price of your new home.

If you come across any of these items in a house you are looking to purchase, be sure to make a note of them, and bring up your concerns with your Realtor or home inspector.

1. Foundation and structural problems.  Cracks in walls, especially in older lathe & plaster walls, can indicate a shifting or settling foundation

2. Cracked or crumbling masonry is susceptible to water penetration. Deterioration in older brick and mortar walls often indicates moisture damage over time, from leaking ground water or poor drainage around the base of the home.

3. Signs of water damage, like peeling ceilings, water stains or obvious signs of patching or oddly repainted sections of a room.  Brand new paint on a single wall or area could indicate they are covering mildew, mold or water damage.

4. Broken fixtures

5. Barricaded spaces in attics, basements or corners of rooms?

6. Cracked or broken windows.

7. Missing or damaged rain gutters

8. Take time to examine the condition of all windows, doors, gutters and steps. Look out for peeling paint and cracks in plaster.

9. Moisture in the basement

10. How do the electrical outlets and vents look?  Are any of the electrical faceplates warm to the touch?

11. Funky smells. Musty smells, in the basement in particular, can be a sign of mold.

12. Peeling paint

13. Insect / termite infestations

14. Plumbing leaks

15. Issues with the heating and ventilation system.

One of the best things about the home buying process is that you are not alone in determining the condition of your next home.  Your home inspector can help you locate and evaluate potential issues with your home, and is trained to spot the structural and systemic isues that perhaps the average person would not notice. As your home  inspector, I can identify these issues and also advise you about potential remedies or repairs.

A home inspection can locate termite infestation that you may not have noticed. The reliability of the heating and ventilation system will be more apparent to the inspector than to your untrained eye. Foundation and structural problems will also be more recognizable to the inspector than to you. Your reliance upon the expertise of the home inspector allows you to mount a little offensive in this home-buying process. You can use the defects described in a home inspection report as an effective negotiating tool to get a better price with the buyer.

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"I would like to take this opportunity to thank John from On the Level Home Inspections. John was extremely thorough and found extensive termite damage in a place that wasn't at all obvious. He saved me from making a very costly mistake. I highly recommend him!"

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Last Updated  11.30.2012