Clues About the Condition of the House

Clues About the Condition of the House

Things you should know when shopping for a home

Before you start looking at houses, decide if you are willing to make any major repairs that might be needed, such as structural, roofing, or plumbing.  Pay attention to clues on the condition of the house before you even place an offer or get an inspection done.  Maintenance issues such as a dirty air intake filter or weeds in the yard may indicate a home has not been well maintained.  If the homeowner didn’t do regular upkeep, what else have they neglected?

Keep a keen eye out for the following:

  • Musty smell, water stains, or mold can indicate a leak or water issue in the home.  Ask if this was a problem that was repaired, or if it is something you might have to fix. 
  • Temperature of the house can be an indicator of other issues.  When visiting, make sure the temperature is consistent with the time of year.  A house without controlled temperature could have insulation issues, cracks, roof problems, or a malfunctioning heating/cooling system. 
  • Faucets and fixtures should all work with good water pressure. 
  • House orientation and its windows affect your energy bill, daily comfort and future value of your home.  If the house is in an awkward position, the sun can stream through your windows in the morning, or beat down on your main living areas in the afternoon particularly in east/west facing homes. 
  • Inconsistencies in the drywall may indicate a repair was done.  Find out the cause, and request paperwork; or, seek a professional inspection to make sure it was done properly.   
  • Roof and eaves with cracked and peeling paint or water stains may indicate the homeowner did not keep up to date with repairs and maintenance. 
  • Windows that open and close properly are important. Do they lock? Is there condensation or chipped paint and caulk? Fixing windows is expensive and often a big project.  If they are not functioning, either walk away from the house, request that the seller repair them, or factor them into the cost of your offer/budget. 
  • Flooring gives clues about the structural integrity of the house.  Slanted, bowing or soft floor can be caused by structural issues. 
  • Older homes require close attention to remodels or repairs made throughout the years.  Ensure they were done properly to code, permitted, and have not affected the structural integrity of the house.  

If you notice any of these things in the houses you look at, make sure you get an inspection done.  Specific issues you want addressed may require a specialized inspector to determine if they are safe and up to code.  With recent remodels, ask for documentation on any work done.  Was it done by a licensed contractor? Was a permit pulled? Did it pass a building inspection? You will also want to ask about any work or appliances that are under warranty.  Request any warranty paperwork from the sellers so that if anything under warranty breaks, you can get it replaced or fixed. 

If you do find issues on a house you're interested in and need a resource, visit to find a Trusted Partner.

And be sure to get pre-qualified before you begin shopping. If you haven't done so, you can start HERE.


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