Before you finalize any property transaction, it’s important for you to conduct a home inspection. Typically, the homebuyer conducts a home inspection as they see fit after making an initial offer—with that offer contingent upon the results of the inspection. If the inspection goes well, the offer can go through without a hitch. Occasionally, you might find a handful of problem areas, and request that those areas be fixed or changed before completing the transaction; you can either demand they be fixed or alter the offer to be slightly lower to account for these needs.
More rarely, you may uncover something during the home inspection that completely jeopardizes the integrity of the deal. These massive “red flags” that the property isn’t what it seems could save you from making a devastatingly bad purchase—but how do you know them when you see them?
Choosing the Right Home Inspector
Your first job is choosing the right home inspector for the job. This is the person responsible for inspecting every inch of the property, noting any points of damage or code violations that could be problematic in the future. If you get someone thorough, experienced, and trustworthy, they’ll work on your behalf and uncover any and all issues you might discover; they’ll also be able to give you comprehensive recommendations on what to do next.
Talk to your real estate agent to see if they have any recommendations for a home inspector. Alternatively, talk to your friends and family members in the area and see if they have someone they trust. Failing that, you can look online to find someone—just make sure you read the online reviews to see if this person has done good work in the past.
Red Flags to Watch For
Even if you find an amazing home inspector to review the home on your behalf, it’s a good idea to attend the inspection yourself and get a firsthand look at the condition of your property.
These are some of the biggest red flags to make you think twice about moving forward with the deal.
Major structural problems. The structure of a home is one of its most important components. If there’s a major structural problem, it could lead to tens of thousands of dollars of repairs or jeopardize the safety of the building. For example, you might encounter a cracked foundation, or a load bearing wall in weak condition. Keep an eye out for cracks in the basement floor and around the edge of the home larger than half an inch. Misaligned door frames, misaligned windows, and slanted front steps could all be indications of structural issues. Sometimes, these can be fixed without much headache or cost; other times, they can completely ruin the value of a home.
Mold. You probably shudder when you see the word, because mold has a reputation for being both deadly and expensive. There are multiple types of mold, and it can manifest in different ways. Depending on where and how it manifests, it could be a serious cause of concern. For example, if you notice a tiny patch of mold in the kitchen, it probably arose due to lack of cleaning, and it may go away with a good wipe-down. But if you notice a moldy smell and a damp atmosphere in the basement, it could be due to a long-term moisture issue—and it could be a sign of mold penetrating deep in the walls.
Knob and tube (or similarly old) wiring. Electrical wiring is a major point for your inspection, since it could impact not just the functionality of your home, but also its safety. Many homes built prior to the 1930s still feature knob and tube wiring, an obsolete and unsafe wiring system. If you buy a house with knob and tube (or similarly old, unsafe wiring), it could increase your insurance rates, raise your risk of fire, and limit what you can do with outlets and appliances. You can always replace the wiring of your home, but knob and tube systems tend to be overly complicated, which means replacing them can be extremely difficult.
Old plumbing. Similarly, you may find that your home features old plumbing systems. In older homes, pipes are sometimes deeply embedded in the walls and floors; if you have a problem with the system, it could be ridiculously difficult to replace it. If the home suffers from bad drainage, low water pressure, sputtering faucets, and other symptoms of plumbing issues, it may be best to avoid the property altogether.
Old roofing. There are several reasons why a “bad” roof should worry you. If the roof hasn’t been replaced in more than 20 years, if it looks degraded, or if you have no records on when or how the roof was replaced, you should consider your options carefully. Replacing a roof is expensive, but even more importantly, your roof plays an active role in protecting the home from damage from precipitation and outdoor elements; if the roof isn’t structurally sound, it could mean the interior of the home has taken damage from its current state.
Infestations. It’s impossible to keep a home completely bug-free, so don’t worry if you see an ant in the kitchen. However, if there’s a full-scale infestation, or signs of a bad infestation in the past, it should make you consider moving onto a different home option. Look for tracks, droppings, bug parts, scratches, or signs of old colonies. You may also notice a powdery substance around windows and counters, or swarms near neighboring homes.
Fortunately, these red flags are rare, and the majority of home purchases go through with minimal complications. If you’re currently in the market for a new home, it pays to have a seasoned expert on your side—which is why Green Residential employs some of the best real estate agents in the Katy, Texas area. Contact us today for a free consultation!