When house hunting, the home tour is perhaps the most eye-opening step in the process. Aside from a home’s curb appeal, that first walkthrough is your first impression of the home. It’s when you can imagine yourself living there and decide if you’re making a smart investment.

    An inspection can protect you from purchasing a home that will cost more in repairs than you can afford, or even give you an idea of how much to offer should you decide it’s the right one for you. Because the home inspection is typically done after the walkthrough, you can spot damage or potentially expensive problems yourself before a professional comes in.

    Here are some red flags to watch out for before you put in an offer on a prospective home.

    1. Water Damage

    Water damage is frequently a sign of a much larger issue within a home, like a leaky roof, pipe, or window. This house-hunting red flag might present as a dark spot, cracked walls, bubbling or flaking paint. With excessive moisture comes mold or mildew, which is one of many common health hazards inside the home that often leads to heightened asthma symptoms, skin and eye irritation, or coughing.

    2. DIY Repairs

    When you notice that areas of ceilings or walls have been patched up with fresh paint or carpet has been recently installed, the sad truth is that it might be a cover-up. Homeowners try to DIY home projects because of the affordability and current home trends, but that doesn’t mean they’re doing it properly. DIY repairs are more likely to require being professionally repaired once again in the near future.

    3. Old HVAC Systems

    Knowing the age of an HVAC unit is critical, as newer systems sidestep a major replacement or repair in the early stages of homeownership. Older systems are less efficient, meaning they use more energy and cost more to operate than newer devices. Not only that, but be on the lookout for signs that it might be malfunctioning, such as strange noises, odors, or leaks.

    4. Uneven Floors

    While house hunting, have you ever walked into a home and noticed you’re at a bit of an angle, or tripped over an unexpected elevation? Uneven flooring could signify a problem with the structural foundation of the home, which is one of the most expensive repairs you can face. Other situations that could explain a slanted floor are moisture damage and soil movement, making it crucial to consult a professional to diagnose the true issue.

    5. Long Time on the Market

    When a home has been on the market for longer than average, there are a number of possible reasons: it’s priced too high, there’s a stubborn seller, and most importantly, the home is in poor condition. A real estate agent can talk with the seller to figure out the reason, or you can make an offer on the home contingent on an inspection. If there are major issues and the seller refuses to account for those expenses, you can decide to rescind the offer.

    Get a Professional Home Inspection

    Identifying these red flags pre-inspection will help you get ahead of the game when it comes time to hire a professional service. It’s crucial to choose the right inspector – one that’s reputable in the area and experienced. They can verify or disprove your concerns from the walkthrough.

    Before you tour homes or consult an inspection company, acquire a mortgage preapproval. This document will lay out how much you have to spend on a home, which is critical to know when accounting for major future repairs. The home inspection is rarely the seller’s responsibility. Often, the buyer pays out of pocket and not worked into the home’s sale price.

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