While it’s typical for a home inspector to find minor issues, there are eight problems that should warn you to proceed with caution or walk away from the house completely. Before you purchase, thoroughly inspect it for the following home inspection red flags to find out if they’re deal breakers.
- Asbestos. Many homes built before July 1989 may contain this hazardous material. If asbestos is present, it must be removed and properly disposed of by a professional. If that’s the case, this costly job should be factored in before making the decision to bid on the house.
- Electrical or plumbing problems. Many plumbing and electrical problems are small and inexpensive to fix. Some people try to save money by doing projects themselves or by hiring an amateur. If the previous homeowners cut corners with wiring or plumbing, consider repair costs when deciding whether to purchase the house.
- Foundation issues. Not all small cracks are deal breakers. When it comes to foundation issues, the main objective is to determine the causes behind cracks. Is it just minor settling of the structure? Or is it more serious, such as large tree roots or poor soil conditions? Once you’ve found the cause of the cracking, you’ll be able to better assess whether you’re willing to move forward.
- Lead paint. In addition to asbestos, older homes may also contain lead paint. This could be a deal breaker, especially for families with young children. Lead paint is extremely dangerous when consumed and removing lead paint can be costly.
- Mold. Not all mold issues are created equal. If mold is found in the bathroom it can be fixed simply by installing an exhaust fan, it’s not cause for great concern. However, if mold is caused by a roof leak, or irrigation or plumbing damage, you may want to research the repair costs before moving forward.
- Old roof. A home inspector will be able to help you determine if any roofing issues are minor, or if there is any damage under the roof. Keep in mind that replacing a roof is one of the most expensive home repairs and can cost thousands of dollars.
- Pests. From wood-eating insects like termites, to cockroaches, to burrowing rats and mice, pests can damage the structure of a home in many ways. However, not all pest problems are as serious as others. When in doubt, call in a pest control company to give you a quote before closing on the house.
- Water damage. Be sure to get an explanation for any water damage you discover. Find out if the basement is likely to flood or if rusty pipes played a role. These larger issues should raise a red flag and help you determine if this is a deal breaker for you.
The information uncovered in the home inspection can be used for negotiation with the seller. If the home has major issues, you may ask the seller to fix the problems or drop the asking price so you have extra money to take care of them yourself.
When you do decide to put a bid on a house, it's important to find the mortgage loan that best fits your family’s budget.