Home Buyer Beware! 5 Home Inspection Red Flags

3 Minute Read

You finally found the perfect home, and the only thing standing between you and your dream is the home inspection. And frankly, you’re a little nervous. What if it flunks the test?

Before you get too worked up, take a deep breath and realize that a home inspection isn’t a pass or fail thing. In fact, no home inspection will yield perfect results. Whether or not your new home gets a passing grade is up to you—not the home inspector—because you’re the one holding the purse strings.

So what are some inspection issues that should make you think twice? Here are five signs your dream home may be more of a curse than a blessing.


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Outdated Electrical Wiring

With today’s families using more gadgets than ever, it’s important to ensure your home’s electrical system isn’t past its prime. An upgrade may be due if your home inspector finds overloaded outlets or a panel that’s wired with too many circuits. Pay close attention to aluminum wiring if it shows up on your home inspection report. It was used between 1965 and the mid-1970s in place of copper, and it poses a dangerous fire hazard due to the potential of overheating at connections.

Foundation Damage

Do you remember the parable about the wise man who built his home upon the rock? If there’s one lesson we learned from that story, it’s that your foundation counts! Every home experiences some degree of settling. A qualified home inspector can tell you when a seemingly minor crack spells major trouble. Watch out for bulging or bowing foundation walls, which is a sign of structural weakness that can cost thousands to repair.

Septic Tank Failure

If your new home comes with a septic tank, make sure trouble isn’t bubbling below the surface. A septic tank that fails can cost $5,000–20,000 to replace. That’s a stinky way to start life in your new home! Foul odors, slow or gurgling drains, and standing water are common symptoms of a septic tank that needs TLC.

Water Intrusion

Water is often called the source of life, but it can wreak havoc when it creeps into places it shouldn’t. Your home inspector should investigate any water stains to determine if there’s an active leak and to check for the presence of mold. A brown spot on the ceiling, for instance, may indicate a faulty roof, while stains on basement walls can clue you in to drainage issues—and neither are a cheap fix.


A home plagued by mold isn’t just gross—it can affect your health. You can typically clean up areas of mold that cover less than 10 square feet on your own without breaking the bank. But extensive growth requires professional help. Plan on paying an average of $2,000–6,000 to remove mold from crawl spaces, walls and ducts.

Consult a Pro for Advice

Just because your home inspector uncovers an issue doesn’t guarantee the seller will fix it. Ultimately, you decide whether to walk away or negotiate with the seller, and a lot of that depends on your budget and willingness to take on a major home improvement project.

An experienced real estate agent can help you navigate the findings and set priorities for moving forward. Don’t have a real estate pro you can trust? We can recommend one in your area.

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