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When searching for a good buy in real estate it’s important to look carefully for signs of physical problems with the property. Issues can range from simple neglect to major structural damage. Can you learn to spot the potential major issues?

You can learn to recognize some major problems. Home & building inspectors are hired daily to identify existing adverse conditions at properties. As a result, we can learn from the experts. In our experience of conducting thousands of home inspections, the ten most common types of defects are:
1. Faulty electrical wiring
2. Roof problems
3. Heating/cooling system defects
4. Plumbing issues
5. Inadequate insulation and ventilation
6. General poor maintenance
7. Improper drainage around the structure
8. Air/water penetrating cracks at doors and windows
9. Structural concerns
10. Potential environmental problems

At your initial walk-thru you should observe carefully for conditions that go beyond simple cleaning and minor repair needs. Look outside for site locations where water will flow, soil should slope away from the structure. Old equipment and components with damage apparent are evidence that costly repairs or replacement could be needed. View under the eaves of the roof to see if leaks are showing up at the perimeters. Look for discoloration on any surface that might indicate leaking or the presence of mold. Go ahead and open up cabinets below sinks and view the areas adjacent to bathtubs or showers. You can even go a step further by lightly banging on the tiled shower surrounds lightly with a closed fist. Loose tiles and spongy backing material indicates the need for tear-out and replacement.

Other defects like electrical, roof and heating/cooling system problems are not always so obvious. Finding an excellent inspector will always be your first line of defense. You can do a search at for home & building inspectors online. When you hire a professional inspector, go around the property with him or her and learn all you can. Ask questions about what they are seeing and what conclusions they are drawing from the existing evidence. If you really want to get good, take some classes or a distance education course on home inspection.

Hiring a home inspection professional, inspecting the property carefully yourself, and scrutinizing the seller disclosure information will go a long way in ensuring the purchase of a sound investment. Never underestimate the importance of your own diligent evaluation. After all, who cares more about the purchase than you do?

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