Tuesday, March 6, 2012 / by Justin Hoffmann
Did you know there are things you can look for, even as a novice, before an inspection, though, that can clue you into the health of a house? It's true. Here are five things that all home buyers should be on the lookout for when viewing a home.
First, be on the lookout for water damage, leaks, or mold. This isn't a time to be shy. You are looking to buy what could be one of the most expensive purchases of your life. So, look beneath counters, behind shower curtains, and around sinks. Do you see evidence of leaks or of moisture build-up? Are there tiles rotting off walls or dampness under sinks? Don't forget to use your nose. You can smell moisture as soon as you enter some homes.
This goes double for basements. These spaces are notorious for harboring mold, leaks, and moisture. Be sure to brave the spiders and check out even the most unfinished of basements. This is also a great way to inspect joists for rot or termite damage as well as basement walls for damage, which could indicate foundation issues.
Next, make your way to the opposite end of the house and be sure to always view the attic. You can tell a lot about a house by looking at the attic. Is the house properly insulated? If not, what are the average heating and cooling bills? Does wiring look safely installed?
The third item that novices can look at is the age and state of some of the more costly repairs and replacements. Ask about the functionality and age of appliances, water heaters, siding, and paint. Knowing when you'll need to replace these items next can help you at the negotiating table.
Fourth, walk around the outside of a house. This is why it's a good idea to look at housing when it's not too icy or snowy. You want to be able to see the foundation and look for any visible cracks. Another pointer is to look at landscaping and be sure it's not too close to the house, which can cause moisture issues. Large trees can also cause root issue for both plumbing and foundations. You can also diagnose foundation issues by looking at the inside walls and ceilings of the home. Are there large cracks? Is the house shifting and settling?
Finally, take a good hard look at the neighborhood as you stand outside. What state are these houses in? Many will have been built in the same time-frame as your home. How do they look? Are people taking care of their yards? Is the neighborhood noisy? Does it smell good?
These tips are no substitute for a professional inspection of the property, but they can give you some real clues as to whether this home is what you're looking for or willing to get into.
by Carla Hill