Signs of Trouble? 5 Clues for Homebuyers

Clues for Homebuyers

Signs of Trouble? 5 Clues for Homebuyers

Despite the fact that buying a house is often the biggest purchase any of us will make in our lifetime, the decision to put in an offer is usually made quickly and largely on gut instinct. While home inspections can be written into the conditions of an offer, you might end up losing valuable time after your offer is accepted, if the inspection reveals problems you can’t overlook. To help speed up the process, use showings to look for these 5 clues – they may point toward property issues you’d rather avoid:

  1. A sagging or damaged roof

Damaged shingles

Crumbling or curling shingles

Look at the house from across the street. A sagging roof and missing or curling shingles could a sign of water damage or rot (water stains on top-floor ceilings are a good indicator that the problem is extensive). According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the lifespan of a roof is usually between 20 and 25 years, so be sure to enquire about the age of the one you’re viewing.

  1. Tap troubles

While few of us are trained plumbers, you may be able to spot any obvious problems by flushing the toilet, running the taps, and turning on the shower. Look for problems with slow drainage, leaky faucets, or low water pressure, as well as any evidence of leaks or mildew beneath sink enclosures. Rooting out the sources of these plumbing issues could be time-consuming and costly.

  1. Inconsistent fresh paint

While there’s nothing unusual about homeowners painting before they sell, finding a few freshly-painted spots on the walls or ceilings could be a clue that some kind of damage was recently covered up. Since the possibilities could range from water stains to smoke damage to mold, you’re well within your rights to ask what occurred.

  1. A wet basement

Damage from wet basement

Signs of water damage in paint

Water problems in the basement may only occur once or twice a year, so pay careful attention to the walls, both at the ceiling and at floor levels. Changes in the paint texture can tell you where water has travelled, and drywall seams occurring roughly a foot above the floor often indicate repair work after flooding. Check any exposed joists or studs for water stains, investigate whether bricks show signs of spalling, and note whether there’s a dehumidifier in sight – all can point to moisture problems.

  1. Improper grading

One of the culprits of water in the basement is a yard that slopes toward the foundation of the house instead of away from it. Improper grading can also lead to foundational deterioration and poor drainage in the yard, so it shouldn’t be overlooked. You can often sense or see the slope of the grade, but pooling water in the yard – especially near the house – can also be a sign of trouble.

Spotting any of these signs can provide clues as to what problems might exist in the home, but before crossing the property off your list, speak with your buyer’s agent to find out more – he or she should be able to discover more about the history of the house and whether the issues have been properly dealt with. Of course, nothing can take the place of hiring a licensed home inspector to confirm your suspicions or put your mind at ease, but these clues can help steer you away from a home full of future headaches.

Originally published in the Canstar Community Newspapers on April 17, 2017. Republished with permission. Content written by ComFree Commonsense Network.


  1. Byrone says:

    Quite helpful.

  2. Pat says:


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