Red Flags During the Home Inspection

Almost all homebuyers hire a professional home inspector to examine the home they want to purchase. If you watch out for these red flags, you will be able to have a knowledge of any future maintenance or renovation costs.

Brown stains on the ceiling are a possible indication of a past or current leak. Water travels; so don’t assume that the source of the leak is directly above the stain. Water could be coming in from the roof.

Also be on the lookout for warped wood floorboards, peeling floor tiles, or cracked floor tiles. Warped floorboards point to water damage. If floor tile is peeling, the underlayment could have soaked, expanded and then destroyed the glue holding the floor together. Cracked ceramic tile could be a sign of water damage also.

Be sure to note any mildew smells in the basement. A sign that water regularly seeps into the basement. Brown stains on the basement walls are another thing to watch out for, as this is another sign of past or current water damage.

Chipped paint around the windows is something to watch out for as well. Wood sills could be damaged and need to be replaced. Failed caulk around window edges are also a problem indicator.

Check for old windows and storms. If you have old windows, chances are a significant amount of air is leaking into the home. If the storm windows are old, they may not provide much insulation. To replace windows is extremely expensive, but plan on spending a few dollars for caulk and new storm windows.

A serious problem to watch for is a wet drain in the basement. If the house is on a sewer system, it could mean tree roots have burrowed their way into the sewer. Plan to clear the sewer at least once a year. Be wary if only one area has been repainted. If you see that the basement walls are freshly painted but no other area has been, it’s possible the seller doesn’t want you to see something-like stains from when the basement last flooded.

Appliances that don’t work are an obvious red flag: If the seller doesn’t want you to do something, or go somewhere in the house. Please do not forget to check for cracks in the foundation.

Lastly, be aware if you just get a strange feeling. In the dead of winter, if a house’s windows are open, with candles and incense burning and the heat blasting, there’s probably a serious problem the seller is trying to hide.

Top 10 Red Flags for Homebuyers

Don’t Buy That House: Potential Red Flags to Homebuyers

Beware of These Home Inspection Red Flags


  1. Two of the appliances in the house don’t work, but the seller said that they just give trouble sometimes, but that they aren’t broken. What to do?

  2. Hi Charles,

    I would dig deeper into the issue and have someone come out and look at the appliances and decide whether they need to be fixed or replaced. I would consider asking the seller to include these costs, but that depends on a variety of factors.

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