Homebuyers looking at house fro sale

It is not always easy being a homebuyer.

A home for sale that you tour, for example, can seem to have everything you want in a house. However, upon closer inspection by a professional, problems may be revealed that your amateur eyes do not necessarily see at first glance. It is difficult, when shopping for a home, to always identify what might be deal-breakers in your decision to make an offer.

To save some aggravation, it might be a good idea to know some problematic-but-lesser-known issues to look for when you visit a home for sale. Here are three tips to remember:

Uneven floors

Floors that sag are a big deal. Typically, it means that there is something structurally wrong with a home. If you were to place a baseball in the middle of the floor, it should stay there. If it rolls on its own, the floor is not level.

Moreover, floors that are not level should be a huge red flag, the sort of red flag you would expect a home inspector to note if you get that far into the purchase process. However, even the best home inspectors are often unable to identify the underlying issues that cause uneven floors. Those issues could be dry-walled over; they might be contained in basements or crawl spaces that are not fully accessible, or your inspector might consider slight sagging of floors merely a symptom of normal settling.

Regardless, purchasing a home with sagging floors, at any level of the structure, is probably not a good idea. It is as true a signal as any that there is something structurally wrong with the home.

Hideous paint colors or worn carpeting are easy fixes. Structural issues are not. 


The No. 1 enemy of homes is water. It is insidious and unrelenting. If you tour a home for sale that has watermarks on ceilings or bubbled paint on walls, it means that the home has had some issues with water encroachment. If you see signs of moisture on the walls or floor a basement, chances are it's a chronic problem.


Think of it this way: If someone puts up their home for sale, they're going to take measures to make it look as good as possible. They are going to minimize any problems. So, if you walk through a home for sale and STILL see evidence of water damage, it likely means it is an ongoing issue, beyond reasonable quick fixes.

The nose knows

If you look at a home for sale that has been occupied by a tobacco smoker, you will probably recognize it, and that alone might be a deal-breaker. Odor-absorbing primers and paints can block residual odors that might linger in the walls.

However, if there is carpet, you will probably have to replace it, or at least budget for a whole-house carpet-cleaning by a professional outfit.

If you catch a whiff of pet odors, however, it can be an entirely different problem. Usually, any pet odors mean removing all carpet, not just cleaning it. Also, pet odors often go beyond just carpet. If there is hardwood, it can hold pet odors. Even subfloors might need replacing and this can get costly. Any porous surfaces do not surrender pet odors easily.

Similarly, if you sense a musty odor or the distinct smell of mold, it means there could be a problem with water intrusion. Again, keep in mind that a seller has likely taken steps to put their home's best foot forward, so if you sniff something that seems out of place, it is likely to be a fundamental or chronic problem.

No home is perfect, but when you are in the market to purchase one, there are going to be things you compromise on, including cosmetic fixes that are no big deal.

However, some items are a big deal, even if they are not so apparent to the casual observer. Having an experienced, qualified agent to help guide you through the process helps, but you might want to have your own base of knowledge, too. Knowing what to look for when buying a home, even if no one specifically tells you to look for them, can help you avoid putting in an offer on the wrong house.

Article by Emerald Coast Realty