See something odd while touring your would-be home? It may not be the time to say something, but you’ll want to make a note so you can bring it up during the home inspection. (One easy way to do it: Snap a photo with your phone.)
Pay attention to these common trouble spots:
Exterior: Are the gutters and downspouts properly attached, and do they drain away from the house? What kind of siding is on the home? Is it in good repair?
Roof: Do you see stains, dark spots or even moss? Any missing shingles or tiles? Ask when the roof was last replaced.
Foundation: Do you see any big cracks? Are there trees close to the foundation? Does any part of the ground near the foundation seem soggy, squishy, or sunken?
Windows and doors: Do they open and close easily? Do any seem misaligned? Do you see any signs of moisture around the frames or between the panes?
Smells: Do you notice any unusual scents? (The real estate agent’s cookies baking in the oven don’t count — think odors that might indicate the presence of mold or mildew.)
Attic and basement: Can you see any signs of moisture or water intrusion? If the attic or basement is unfinished, what kind of insulation do you see? Is it in good condition?
Heating and cooling: What systems are in place and are they functional? Look for a serial number or manufacturing date to get a sense of the system’s age. If there’s been a replacement, is the old system still in place? (For example, if the home was converted from oil to propane, is there still an oil tank on the property? An improperly decommissioned fuel tank can be hazardous.)
Plumbing: How’s the water pressure? Do the fixtures work? Any signs of leaks in under-sink cabinets? How old is the hot water heater?
Electrical: Do all light switches work? Are all the outlets grounded? (If you spot any that are two-prong, those are definitely not grounded.) Does the house have an older electrical panel with fuses or a newer one with circuit breakers, or both? Outdated wiring can be a hazard in itself and a hassle to upgrade.
Major appliances: If appliances like the oven, refrigerator, washer or dryer are included with the sale, what’s their condition?