Purchasing a home is a huge expense for most families. For many buyers, the family home is likely to be the largest single investment they will make in their lifetime. Yet a decision of this magnitude is typically made while doing a single walk-through viewing of homes for sale; a process that usually takes place in well under an hour.
With this in mind, it is understandable for prospective buyers to worry that they will miss signs of important condition issues while viewing homes. While making your offer contingent upon the results of a thorough home inspection performed by a qualified professional will help you avoid purchasing a home with condition issues, recognizing problems during the initial viewing can save time, money, and heartache during the buying process.
Cracks and bulges in the foundation
The structural health of the home depends upon a solid foundation capable of effectively supporting the home throughout its lifetime. While some settlement is considered normal, noticeable cracks or bulges visible in the foundation walls should always be taken seriously by buyers and investigated thoroughly before they proceed with further interest in the home.
Door, window, floor, and trim issues
Another sign that the home may be suffering from foundation settlement issues is when doors and windows do not open and shut easily. Door and window frames that appear uneven may also be caused by foundation problems that can be costly to address.
Additionally, floors that feel uneven when walking on them and rooms in which baseboards or woodwork that has been noticeably trimmed in size to make it fit a particular area are good indicators that a significant problem might exist that buyers should approach with caution.
Small areas of fresh paint
While real estate agents often advise their listing clients that a new coat of paint will help give their home a fresh look and make it more attractive, prospective buyers who view a home that has one or more small areas of fresh paint should beware. These small, patch-like areas of fresh paint may be a seller's attempt at disguising a water stain on a ceiling or covering some other type of damage.
Buyers who want to avoid buying a home with condition issues that could be difficult or expensive to remedy should ask their real estate professional to help them screen the homes they will be viewing carefully before the showing appointment date. This should include reviewing the seller's disclosure documents to look for potential condition issues and examining any prior listing and sold information that may be available on the home.