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Do you know what to look for when you are buying a house?

November 2, 2023

by Bridget Blonde


Nest Realty Inc. Brokerage

Congrats on taking the plunge into the world of real estate! Investing in a house is an great way to build wealth. But buying a home can feel a lot like gambling if you’re not sure how to spot a potential money pit. The good news is, it's not rocket science. You don't need a PhD in home inspections to figure out if a house is worth its salt. What you need is the inside scoop on what to look for when you're house hunting.

Here’s my checklist of six important things to look at when you're house-hunting.

1. Roof Condition

You probably won’t be able to actually see a home’s roof during a showing. But that doesn’t mean you can forget about it—after all, the cost of a new roof can be significant!

Ask these questions:

  • How old is the roof?

  • What is the roof made of?

  • How long is this material expected to last?


It's important to check the HVAC system before you buy. As you look at houses, you should ask about the type of heating and cooling system, its age, and if there are any maintenance records you can see. Gas furnaces usually last from 10–25 years. Air conditioners a little less. If either are broken get estimates for repair and/or replacement.

Besides age look for rust, water damage, cracks or weird sounds. A home inspector should also be able to find any major issues.

3. Plumbing Issues

If you’re not familiar with home plumbing, it’s easy to get confused and make a mistake. Here are three questions to ask:

  • Are there any issues with the sewer lines? If you can also find out the age of the sewer lines that's a bonus.

  • How do the toilets look? Check for leaks, unstable bases and discoloration. Yes, you’re allowed to flush the toilet during a home showing! The same goes for making sure all the showers and sinks are in good shape.

  • What’s the state of the water heater? Your REALTOR® can usually find the age of a water heater on it's label. Is the unit owned or rented? It's a good idea to review a copy of the rental contract if it's a leased unit.

4. Water Damage and Mold

When it comes to water leaks and damage, they're the trouble! Water can cause all sorts of issues, like structural damage, rot, and mold, especially in those basement spaces. Pro Tip: be on the alert for musty smells, you might have a water problem on your hands.

Keep your eyes peeled for water stains on the floors or ceilings.

If you're really set on a house and you suspect water damage, don't worry too much. Your trusty home inspector will help you figure out how bad the damage is, so you can make an informed decision.

Because mold is a health hazard, you’ll definitely want to get it treated before moving in, but also be sure to find out the source of the moisture to prevent future problems.

5. Noise Level

One of the most overlooked factors is a neighborhood’s noise level. Just because things are on quiet mode during a showing doesn’t mean it’s like that 24/7. Think about these questions:

  • Is the home by a major road? Traffic noise can drive you crazy!

  • Is it near an airport or railroad tracks? And what's the train schedule?

  • Is the property a condo or townhome? Shared walls can be a huge source of frustration and conflict.

  • Remember that excessive neighbourhood noise can negatively affect a house's value.

6. A Good Foundation and Exterior

Your foundation is very important - and very expensive to repair! Bulging or bowing foundation walls are a sign of structural weakness. Other red flags are:

  • Cracks in the foundation or exterior

  • large drywall or ceiling cracks of shifting

  • Gaps above doors and windows

  • Sunken stairs or porches

  • Sloping or uneven floors

Not every crack is a sign that the place is about to crumble into ruins. Houses, just like us, go through some changes as they age, and a few cracks here and there are pretty normal. Let a qualified and trusted home inspector tell you whether a minor crack spells major trouble.

When you're out there checking out homes, here's the real deal – pretty much every place, even the shiny new ones, will have a flaw or two.

That's where having an experienced agent and home inspector comes in clutch. They'll guide you through these tricky moments and helping you figure out the best game plan!


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