Spotting Signs of Potential Problems Before Buying a House

If you don't know how to spot a potential problem with a house, buying a home can be overwhelming. After all, no one wants to purchase a home only to find out they have a major problem to fix a month later. Fortunately, you can make the buying process a lot less stressful by looking for the following things every time you tour a property.

Roof Problems

It's very easy to get caught up in examining a home's interior features. Unfortunately, when people become too involved in examining the inside of the house, they tend to forget about the home's exterior. Sure, you probably won't forget to check out the yard or additional structures on the property, but don't get so caught up in everything else that you forget to look up. Of course, you probably won't be able to actually climb up onto the roof of every home your realtor takes you to, but you can visually inspect the roof from the ground. You need to look for any cracked or missing shingles and make sure all of the gutters and downspouts are in good space and securely attached.

You should also ask your realtor if he or she knows how old the roof is so you have an idea of how soon it may need to be replaced. Typically, tile, slate, and copper roofs have a lifespan of more than 50 years, wood shake roofs last around 30 years, fiber cement shingles last around 25 years, and asphalt shingles last approximately 20 years.

Plumbing Problems

Plumbing issues can also be difficult to spot because the majority of a home's plumbing system is hidden behind walls and underneath the house. However, signs of potential plumbing problems are often easier to spot than you might think. Look for water stains on the walls or ceilings, sagging floors, and mildew growth—all of these are signs of potential plumbing problems. Additionally, when you walk through the home, you need to make sure all of the toilets in the house flush properly and don't continue to run after flushing. Also, test the water pressure by turning on each sink and shower, and make sure all the drains drain properly. You should also ask your realtor whether he or she knows the location, condition, and age of the house's hot-water heater. Hot-water heaters typically last between 8 and 12 years. If the hot-water heater is nearing the end of its lifespan, you might want to ask for it to be replaced before finalizing your home purchase.

Specific Odors

Certain smells or odors could actually be an indicator of a major home problem. For example, if you smell mildew or mold when you walk into the house, the home could have mold growing behind the walls or could have a plumbing problem. You should also pay attention to any faint smells of sewage or dirt both inside and outside the home. This could be an indication that there is a problem with the home's sewage system or septic tank. Additionally, it's important to watch for scents that are really hard to get rid of, such as cigarette smoke or pet urine.

While you might not be able to predetermine every potential problem in the homes that you're touring, it isn't difficult to spot signs of major issues. If you're unsure about a specific property, talk to a realtor, such as one from Cudd Realty, about alternative options before making a final decision.