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Home Inspections: Most Common Problems

February 29, 2012

Many analysts believe there will be a resurgence in foreclosure and short sale inventory in 2012, which should open the door to outstanding opportunities for buyers, but also caution.

Because many bank-owned properties are sold as-is, foreclosure properties have to be carefully vetted to be sure their low price doesn’t grow because of unforeseen defects that are expensive to fix.

A home inspector can be a buyer’s best friend.  Every home, including new construction, can have problems, but that’s even more true in foreclosure properties that were abandoned or are in disrepair.

Top problems inspectors find:

1. Water problems: Inspectors will tell you this is the number one issue they encounter in a home inspection. Leaky pipes, unseen leaks behind siding or in roofs, and water intrusion into basements and attics are common and expensive problems to deal with. In 36% of homes inspected, poor grading and drainage were observed, and they are a major culprit for water problems.

2. Roofing: The roof is a difficult part of the house to inspect. Many states do not require inspectors to climb atop the roof for their reports, and much can be missed from the ground. Roofs don’t last forever… and they will begin to show diminishing performance over time.  Some roofs, even if they are newer, are improperly installed, leaving gaps for water, rodents, and insects to enter the home.  It’s important to talk with an inspector about the best way to ensure the roof is safe and will last for many years yet.

3. Electrical wiring: Incorrect or undersized wiring can be disastrous and dangerous for homeowners. Older homes were never wired to handle the amount of appliances, electronics, and modern conveniences that they must today, and when overloaded, have the potential for fire. Another major problem seen by inspectors is do-it-yourself projects that result in overloaded circuits and exposed wiring!

4. Plumbing: No one likes to discover a leak in their house because the location and fixing it can be tricky. Water runs down walls and often collects in places nowhere near the true source of the leak! The most common places for plumbing leaks are in bends, fittings and connections between pipes, and sometimes those are behind walls and under floors, making it expensive and troublesome to deal with. It can also lead to consequences like mold damage or even pests like carpenter ants.

5. Heating and Cooling: An inspector will run a furnace and air conditioner through a cycle to ensure it’s working, but how much longer is it going to last? Buyers should also ask that question because if it needs replacement soon, they should build that into the cost of the home.

6. Decks: A beautiful outdoor space can be hiding structural problems or poor workmanship and materials, especially if it was done on the weekend by the previous homeowner. Inspectors can check the safety and strength of the deck, alert you to problems with railings or steps, and let you know if the materials will hold up to the elements over the long-term.

There are fantastic deals on homes in today’s market, but it’s essential that buyers don’t purchase a home and find out the savings they enjoyed will disappear in costly repairs. By contracting with a home inspector, buyers have some built-in protection that major defects will be found before they reach the closing table.


Loan Officer Kristen DiCarlo

Loan Officer Kristen DiCarlo

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