5 Visual Gut-Checks to Buying a Home

When buying a home it is important to make sure the home is as safe and inviting as it seems. A good way to make sure your new home is up-to-date and running smoothly, before you end up spending money on a possible lemon, is to purchase a professional home inspection – checking it out solely on your own is not recommended, but here are 5 key things to take note of in your own visual inspection:

ONE – Look For Underground Storage Tanks

The modern home is on city sewer and water and other services, but some either still depend on underground storage tanks or used to and those older tanks may still be an issue if still in place – even if unused. USTs could have been used for oil, septic containment, water, gas, etc., and significant issues can arise if those USTs leak. For instance, even though a typical oil tanks can last up to 15 years and a petroleum tank can last over 30, it is never easy to tell how long they have been in the ground.  Even minor leakage can cause damaging contamination, and this isn’t likely to be covered by a homeowner’s policy and can lead to legal issues.

TWO – Check for Cracks in the Walls or Foundation

Modern homes have better structural reinforcement than they used to and so cracks in the walls or foundation walls or slabs aren’t as typical. However this is not the case for older homes that were often made out of lesser materials or that were poorly engineered. It’s easy to check for cracks by walking around the inside and outside of the home. Horizontal cracks are usually a worse sign than vertical cracks, but no matter what you find make sure it isn’t merely cosmetic.

THREE – Sense for Odd Odors

When walking through a home if you sense any odd or distasteful odors, please don’t take them lightly. They could be from mold or other water damage, a natural gas or propane leak, or from the activities of prior pets. Any of these could be expensive to repair. Many times people just assume that the odors will go away when they remove carpets and/or paint, but this isn‘t always the case.

FOUR – Look for Signs of Infestations

Rodents and insects belong outside, but in our climate they often seem to find their way inside and can be a terrible menace. Termites can serve to undermine your home’s structure, and ants can be aesthetically annoying – we also are annoyed by pigeons getting into roof openings and ground rodents getting inside. Observe carefully for signs of these nuisances, such as droppings or other damage, and look at other homes in your proposed new neighborhood. Most times these are easily checked by retaining a professional pest control company on a regular schedule, but try to be as sure as possible before committing.

FIVE – Identify Water Damage

Aside from causing mold, water damage can wear away and erode essential elements of your home. Look inside all sink cabinets for plumbing drip damage. Turn on and run all water functions in the home and flush the toilets. Your Professional Home Inspector will also do this, but it is easy for you to do so as well as a double check. Observe the ceilings in each room for discoloration or signs that something might have been textured or painted over.


This list isn’t meant to cause worry – rather it is meant to aide you in your own independent evaluation of a home. The used home market is dominating now and the new home market is lagging, so most homes don’t come in new condition or with warranties. While it is wise to hire experts, it is also wise to sharpen your sense for things that can cause major issues.

Rob Flitton, “The Closer”, of RE/MAX CENTRAL in Las Vegas, a talented and successful REALTOR® with more than 25 years of industry experience – see