We’ve all felt that feeling: when you see a home for the first time, and float through the entire showing on cloud nine. But, while many homes may look perfect in the glow of a first showing, the problems lurking beneath often don’t surface until it’s too late — when your offer’s been accepted and you’ve just paid for professional inspections.
That’s why we’re sharing these hacks — straight from locally-known and respected home inspector Nate Thompson of A Closer Look Home Inspection — so you can be one step ahead in the home inspection game long before you consider submitting an offer.
Watch for signs of water.
One of the biggest (and most expensive) issues found in home inspections that buyers simply don’t see at first glance is water damage. Why? Because past water issues in a home can sometimes be simple to cover up cosmetically. Look for areas (particularly on the ceilings, and particularly around places like large bay windows where the roof flashings could cause water to collect) with yellowing or staining that could signal water damage. But wait! Be just as cautious if you see spots that appear to be painted over with a brighter or fresher looking white than the rest of the ceilings. That could indicate a spot where a previous owner made a poor attempt to mask past water damage.
Open a window.
While walking through a showing, it’s easy to get distracted by beautiful finishes and furnishings. But somewhere in-between the “oohs” and “ahhs”, make time to crack at least a few windows open. This way, you can check the age and condition of the windows, along with what materials they’re made of (wood, vinyl, etc.). Pay special attention to how well (or how poorly) they lock and latch, and whether there appears to be any rotting around the frames if they’re made of wood. You’ll thank yourself later when you’re not replacing an entire home full of windows you hadn’t budgeted for.
Use your sniffer.
This one may seem simple, but remember to follow your nose through a showing as much as your eyes. Because, as much as staining can be a visual sign of water or other damage, so can a musty, wet dog smell. Stay alert, and use all your senses to scope out the potential home, and take notice if the seller has staged each room of the home with strongly-scented candles or air fresheners; they could be meant to distract you from a bigger issue at hand.
Check out the guts.
Be on the lookout for any signs of knob and tube wiring or galvanized piping. These might not be evident to the untrained buyer’s eye, so be sure to ask your realtor if you’re unsure. Both of these can mean expensive home insurance issues down the line.
Know the age of major items.
When you head into the basement, we know you’re more interested if there’s a giant flat screen tv for watching the game on Sundays or an unfinished space to transform into the perfect kids’ playroom. But stick with your realtor, and scope out that less-than-desirable looking back storage room, where big-ticket items like your furnace and water heater lie. These items (along with others like your roof and air conditioner) can mean big bucks if they need to be replaced in short order by the buyer (and may affect how much you want to offer for the home), so be sure to check their ages and research the life expectancy of the brand and model before moving forward.
About Our Guest Blogger:
Nate Thompson is the Founder & Owner of A Closer Look Home Inspection, a home inspection company serving West Michigan for nearly a decade. He was born and raised in Holland, and currently lives in Rockford with his wife of 10 years and his 3 sons. Before founding A Closer Look Home Inspection, Nate was an electrician, and has worked in various areas of the construction industry for over 15 years, giving him the insider industry knowledge to go above and beyond in serving his clients.
Contact Nate directly at email@example.com or (616)304-6243 to learn more about the FREE warranties included with every A Closer Look Home Inspection (including up to $11,000 worth of repairs for unexpected issues and a 5-year no roof leak guarantee!)