Upon acceptance of an offer, the due diligence period begins. This agreed upon time frame allows home buyers to facilitate the necessary inspections to discover if the property is suitable for living in and most frequently, will be up to par for financing. While it is always a good idea to hire home inspection professionals after contract formation, there are things that you as a buyer can look for WHILE your agent is showing you prospective properties.

  1. Foundation - Due to the fluctuation of the landscape in Western North Carolina there are many properties that have a least one wall below grade (meaning that one or more of the walls is backed up to the earth, like a basement.) . If the home you are looking at has these characteristics you should be aware of the condition of the below grade wall. Most of the time this means simply putting eyes on the wall and visually inspecting it for cracks, both vertical and horizontal. The presence of the crack usually means that the earth is starting to settle and could affect the integrity of the home. There are a few ways to remedy these issues if found, but for financing reasons it should be noted that if you see a foundation crack, chances are that another home should be considered. It is not entirely uncommon to have financing fall through due to foundation issues, but each lender is different so check with your specific lender to see.

2. Pests - After contract formation ALWAYS hire a professional to come and assess the home for pests. But while you are still on the hunt for your dream home, there are things you can look out for that can be seen by the naked eye.

Above: Look for small holes in wood around the property. This may be a sign of a termite infestation.

3. Mold - The presence of mold can cause health problems and become a very expensive issue to remedy. While you are viewing different properties with your agent there are a few signs you can look for in problem areas such as the basement and attic. It is a good idea while you are looking at potential properties to go into the attic and basement and check to see if this area is dry or has visible moisture, possible from a leak or flooding. Often times there may be mold that is from previous water damage and may have been fixed before the sellers listed the property. It is good to familiarize yourself with what active mold growth looks like so you can decipher whether the problem has been corrected or will continue to be an issue if you decide to make an offer on the property.

Above: Active black mold from a previously flooded basement. In many cases like this, the solution would be to remove drywall down to studs and further examine the damage internally, which can be a lengthy and expensive problem to correct.

TAKEAWAY: As a buyer it is important to be educated about the condition of the home you are looking to purchase. There are many different scenarios: maybe you are looking for a project home that will have issues that most buyers find unattractive, or maybe you are looking for a move in ready home with little or no damage. Whether your needs fall into either of those categories taking time to familiarize yourself with the different kinds of issues many homes could potentially have is in your best interest to keep your eyes peeled for certain "red flags" when in search for your new home. As always, your RealtorĀ® professional will be able to help you scout out potential issues and advise you about steps to take moving forward with any purchase.