A Realtor's Guide to Home Inspection Red Flags

When you’re a real estate professional, clients look to you for expert advice. Learn which items on a buyer’s inspection report raise serious red flags.

As a real estate professional, clients look to you for accurate advice in all stages of the home buying process. They trust you have their best interests in mind, especially when issues arise in the inspection. Inspection results can help your buyers secure their dream home or walk away from a money pit they’ll regret for years to come. In this article, we’ll help you identify red flags to look for during a home inspection.

The Importance of a Home Inspection

If you have an antsy client who wants to close the deal as fast as possible, they might suggest skipping a home inspection. But waiving a home inspection is never a good idea. During a home inspection, your client has the opportunity to discover the true value of the home. 

They may find repair situations that bring down the value of the home or kill the deal entirely. With an inspection report in-hand, you can help them gain negotiation leverage and make a smart choice on one of the biggest purchases of their life.

10 Common Home Inspection Red Flags

You may know the ins and outs of real estate, but when it comes to home inspections, what should you look for to help your client? Where can dangerous and costly issues be hiding? The list below covers ten red flags to look for in the exterior and interior of the home.

Potential Red Flags Outside the House

  1. Roof: Roof replacement can be one of the most costly repairs a homeowner encounters. Does the roof look well maintained? Are there flat spots where water pools? Are there missing shingles? When was the roof replaced previously? Problems here can be a serious dealbreaker.
  2. Foundation: The entire home rests on the foundation, and repairs aren’t often easy or affordable. Did the inspector note any uneven areas? Any major cracks? Sunken areas? Evidence of moisture? A solid foundation is essential to a solid deal.
  3. Windows and Doors:  Windows and doors can be replaced, but not without significant expense. Do they open and close smoothly? Do they seal tightly? Windows and doors that don’t keep the elements out can lead to expensive energy bills and even more substantial damage elsewhere.
  4. Gutters: Water damage is always a critical issue to look for, and gutters are surprisingly important. Ensure gutters are properly connected to the roof and downspouts are pushing water away from the home’s foundation on a gradual slope.
  5. Pests: Termites and other wood-destroying organisms can make quick work of wood siding and structural components. The same can be said for squirrels, mice or rats that chew through wires and make nests in the walls. Evidence of pests can mean headaches for years to come.

Potential Red Flags Inside the House 

  1. Electric: Electrical problems tend to be serious inspection red flags. Outdated wiring can require total replacement to make a home safe to occupy. On top of that, old wiring doesn’t always accommodate large, modern appliances. Running appliances on fuses that can’t accommodate them is highly dangerous.
  2. Mold: Mold and water leaks are usually found together, and neither are a good sign. Though some mold is harmless and can be remediated without much issue, other types can cause respiratory issues or inflame symptoms in those with allergies or asthma. Any kind of substantial mold should be addressed before your clients move in.
  3. Plumbing: Replacing the mechanism on a constantly running toilet is quick and cheap. Replacing pipes that aren’t insulated and burst in freezing temperatures? Not so much. You also want to look for the presence of lead pipes. They were banned in the United States in 1986, but are common in homes built before that. With plumbing there should be a sewer scope that can identify issues like roots growing through pipes or a “belly” where water isn’t draining properly.
  4. Appliances: Outdated kitchen appliances aren't a major cause for concern. The big-ticket items to watch out for are furnaces, boilers, water heaters and air conditioners. Replacement or repair of these appliances can cost tens of thousands of dollars and may require ripping out walls or ceilings. Plus, gas appliances that haven’t been property maintained can expose homeowners to deadly carbon monoxide gas.
  5. Insulation and Asbestos: Asbestos seems like a problem of the past, yet is quite common in homes built before 1980. In fact, this cancer-causing insulation material can even be found in things as simple as popcorn ceilings. While it can be removed safely, it requires expensive, professional removal that may be beyond what a client wants to take on.

AmeriSpec is Your Trusted Home Inspection Partner

We know as a real estate professional you want a thorough inspection that will help your clients catch both minor and major issues. When you’re looking for a trusted home inspection partner to recommend, turn to AmeriSpec. We have over 30 years of experience providing in-depth home inspection services

AmeriSpec home inspectors conduct an inspection of 400+ evaluation points to give you an accurate understanding of the property’s current condition. Within 24 hours of completing the inspection, we’ll deliver the industry-leading AmeriSpec report that details the condition of all major systems and components, as well as useful information like the location of shut-off valves.

With more than 150 locations across North America, AmeriSpec is a trusted partner of countless real estate professionals. Contact us today to schedule a home inspection for your client or learn more about our inspection services.