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I’m a Real Estate Agent: 12 Costly Red Flags To Look For During a Home Inspection

fizkes / Getty Images/iStockphoto
fizkes / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Texas realtor Terry LeBlanc, founder of the Terry Alan Realty Group, knows that inspections can impact a homebuyer’s long-term finances more than the interest rate on the loan.

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“Buying a home is one of the most significant investments you’ll ever make, so it’s essential to ensure that your potential new residence is in good condition,” he said. “Hiring a qualified and experienced home inspector is crucial to ensuring a comprehensive evaluation of the property. While some issues may be relatively minor and easily fixable, others can be expensive and complex to address. By being diligent and proactive in identifying these red flags, you can make an informed decision and avoid unexpected financial burdens in your new home.”

The following is a look at the most problematic and expensive issues that cause LeBlanc to sound alarm bells to his clients.

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Foundation Problems

The Bible contains a parable about a wise man who builds his house on rock and a foolish man who builds his house on sand. Although it’s a spiritual metaphor in that context, the concept as it applies to homebuilding is quite literal — and it still applies 2,000 years later.

“A cracked or shifting foundation can be one of the most expensive issues to rectify,” LeBlanc said. “Look for signs of foundation problems like cracks in the walls, uneven floors, or doors that don’t close properly.”

Foundation Drainage Issues

Even if your foundation is in good shape now, it won’t stay that way for long if the systems designed to move water away from the property aren’t functioning as designed.

“Poor drainage around the foundation can lead to water infiltrating the basement or crawl space, causing structural damage and mold issues,” LeBlanc said. “Ensure proper grading and drainage solutions are in place.”

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Roof Damage

Opposite the foundation is the roof, which is equally crucial to the long-term functionality of the home and just as expensive to remedy when it fails.

“Roof repairs or replacements can be quite costly,” LeBlanc said. “Check for missing or damaged shingles, water stains on ceilings, or signs of an aging roof, such as curling shingles.”

Structural Issues

Ambitious and handy DIYers can tackle some household projects themselves — but structural challenges are rarely among them.

“Issues like sagging ceilings, sloping floors, or visible signs of structural damage can indicate significant problems,” LeBlanc said. “These issues often require professional intervention, which can be financially burdensome.”

Electrical Problems

According to State Farm, shoddy electrical work is one of the three major causes of fires — just behind cooking and heating incidents — making this category both pricey and potentially catastrophic.

“Outdated or faulty electrical systems can pose safety risks and result in expensive rewiring or panel upgrades,” LeBlanc said. “Look for flickering lights, non-functioning outlets, or signs of DIY electrical work.”

Plumbing Concerns

Plumbing issues not only diminish the house’s functionality but can trigger a slew of moisture-related problems that fester, spread and drain your wallet.

“Leaky pipes, corroded plumbing, or a malfunctioning septic system can lead to water damage, mold, and costly repairs,” LeBlanc said. “Ensure that the plumbing system is in good working order.”

HVAC System Issues

HVAC systems are crucial to air filtration and climate control — and fixing them is intrusive and expensive.

“An inefficient or non-functioning heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system can lead to high utility bills and costly repairs,” LeBlanc said. “Have the HVAC system inspected to ensure it’s running efficiently.”

Water Damage and Mold

Well-functioning roofs and plumbing systems are essential because small leaks never stay small for long — and they always lead to big bills.

“Water stains, musty odors, or visible mold growth are serious concerns,” LeBlanc said. “Remediation and repairs for water damage and mold can be expensive, and these issues can also pose health risks.”

Termite or Pest Infestations

The term “pest” implies a minor nuisance, which does not accurately represent the structural and financial destruction that wood-consuming insects can inflict.

“Termites and other pests can cause extensive structural damage,” LeBlanc said. “A termite inspection is essential to catch infestations early and prevent costly repairs.”

Environmental Hazards

Removing and disposing of dangerous and toxic outdated building materials is disruptive, expensive, highly regulated specialty work that doesn’t come cheap.

“Homes built before stricter regulations may contain asbestos or lead-based paint, both of which can be costly to remediate safely,” LeBlanc said. “Ensure the home is free from these hazardous materials.”

Aging Appliances and Systems

If you’re buying a home, you probably won’t have much room left in your budget to spend Black Friday shopping to replace the machines that keep it running and functioning. Make sure those that came with your house still have plenty of life left in them.

“Outdated or poorly maintained appliances, such as the water heater, furnace, or dishwasher, can be costly to replace,” LeBlanc said. “Check their condition and inquire about their age.”

Radon Gas

Last on the list is invisible poison, which you’ll want to know about before you close the purchase.

“Radon is a radioactive gas that can seep into homes through the ground, potentially causing lung cancer,” LeBlanc said. “Radon mitigation systems can be expensive to install if elevated levels are detected.”

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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: I’m a Real Estate Agent: 12 Costly Red Flags To Look For During a Home Inspection

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