Six issues to look for in pre-owned homes |
BlogFreshest property listings, latest news, and top real estate tips.

Six issues to look for in pre-owned homes

by Jillian CariolaPublished: November 22, 2017Updated: November 22, 2017

Older houses can be as damaged as they are charming. Check for these common maintenance issues if you’re thinking about buying one.

Maintenance and repair problems in older homes MyProperty Philippines old house

These days, more and more people are seeing the appeal of homeownership, convincing them to search for that ideal property to proudly call their own. If you are buying a home for the first time, your first considerations will most likely be price, size, and location. But now will also be the optimal time to choose between a newly constructed home or an existing older one because as real estate developers continuously churn out property after property to support the growing demand, there’s still no denying the appeal of a nice older home.

Often, older homes are seen to have more character due to the memories it has incurred over the years. They’re also most likely found within a city’s most coveted areas; with the lack of available land to build on these days, developers have opted to construct their projects a bit further. And if you value originality in terms of design, it’s most likely that an older home is aesthetically unique, since current horizontal developments tend to have homes that look quite similar to each other. Moreover, older homes tend to be a smarter choice when you consider the cost in relation to size and location.

However, there is a difference between older homes that were well-maintained and ones that previous owners have allowed to deteriorate. A pre-owned home can easily be a money pit if you don’t inspect it carefully before buying. Be sure to check an older house and lot for sale for these problems before making an offer.

Foundation problems

It’s normal for particularly older properties to have some damage as these can be mere signs of a home’s shifting or settling, and wear and tear. Unfortunately, large enough damage can also be an indication that the foundation has been compromised and can be very costly to fix should you go through with the purchase. The first thing you want to do is look for wall fissures, such diagonal cracks, which result in an unequal settlement; step cracks, which might cause a wall to bulge or separate; and horizontal cracks, which signals the foundation or walls are bowing and might lead to a structural collapse. You should also see if there are any doors or windows that don’t open freely, walls that are leaning at an angle, and sloping floors. Other signs to look out for are gaps where the wall and ceiling meet, visible bulges, and water in the basement if the property has one.

Maintenance and repair problems in older homes MyProperty Philippines wall crack
Photo via Depositphotos

Faulty wiring

A bad wiring job or an old electrical system is a risk factor for an accidental fire, so be adamant in examining a house’s wiring. Look closely at the electrical sockets and light switches for scorch marks and check sockets for grounding. If the house has its own light bulbs or light fixtures, look at them closely if they flicker or dim when turned on as this is a sign of trouble. If the sockets are empty, bring your own good quality light bulbs so you can check them. Heat is also an indicator of electrical issues. Light fixtures, lamps, or bulbs produce heat, of course, but if the heat is radiating from switch plates or outlets, it’s a sign of incorrect wiring. Make sure to check as well if the circuit breaker is in good shape. A circuit breaker is supposed to prevent overheating or overloading, but if it trips too often, it likely needs repairing. Sparks, a buzzing sound, or strange smells not coming from appliances or electronics are also signals of faulty electrical work. You might also want to find out if there are enough sockets in the entire home so that you won’t be required to use extension cords which, when overloaded, can trigger a fire.

Maintenance and repair problems in older homes MyProperty Philippines burned wall socket
Photo via Depositphotos

Bad plumbing system

The older the plumbing, the more prone it will be to rust and leaks, and the bigger the possibility that you’ll have to replace your pipes. Watch out for low water pressure as well, which can mean a leak or clog somewhere in the system, or wrong sized pipes. Noise is also a good indicator; if the plumbing produces a clanging or grinding noise, it means the pipes are loose. This may not sound like a big issue, but if they are loose enough, the tension or friction causing the noise might also be causing your pipes to leak or bend. Also, be wary of smells coming from the drains, as they can be indicators of anything from a clog to a damaged sewer line. Another way to tell if your plumbing is faulty is if the water bills are too high, but of course, you can only see this if you are already living in the house.

Maintenance and repair problems in older homes MyProperty Philippines Man fixing plumbing
Photo via Depositphotos

Water damage

Plenty of factors can cause water damage, including poor plumbing and constant flooding. Some of the most common problems caused by water are mold, wood rot, and a weak foundation, all of which can lead to bigger problems if not caught in time. Be sure that you check out all parts of the house that are constantly exposed to water, or are made of wood like the doors, the beams in the basement and the deck. If you’re finding it hard to find possible issues, check the walls and the roof for water stains, warping, or a moldy odor, which will lead you to where the water damage is.

Maintenance and repair problems in older homes MyProperty Philippines Wall mold
Photo via Depositphotos

Roof and gutter problems

If you are looking at the roof from the ground, it’s hard to see if there is any damage, but be sure that you either check it yourself or hire someone to do it. A damaged roof won’t just translate to leaks in the rainy season, but will also mean a very expensive repair job. Ask how old the roof is (roofs usually last for 10–15 years before wear and tear set in) and see if there are any cracked, warped, stained, or missing shingles. Check the interior’s ceiling or walls for water stains, as well as if the rafters are showing signs of sagging. Also, see to it that the gutter is firmly attached to the roof, and that the drains leading down from them are not clogged.

Maintenance and repair problems in older homes MyProperty Philippines Damaged roof
Photo via Depositphotos

Termites and other infestation

When a property has not been lived in for a long time, it’s possible that other creatures have moved in and made the place their home. It’s also possible that these pests have gone undetected while the previous owners were still in the residence, which might be worse; if they had been in the property for a while, they could have caused major damage by the time the home has been put on the market. Aside from seeing the actual pests or their carcasses, you can tell if the home has unwanted guests if you see pest droppings, evidence of nesting, odd smells, holes or gnaw marks on the walls and floors, and a hollow sound when you knock on a supposedly solid wooden wall. If the home is close to a dump site, sewers, or anywhere that garbage is often piled up, it is also a good sign that pests that make these places their nest may have found their way to the home, too.

Maintenance and repair problems in older homes MyProperty Philippines
Photo via Depositphotos

Don’t base your buying decision solely on the property’s appearance. The novelty of having an older house can easily wear off if you find yourself having to deal with extensive problems that come with the home’s age.


Main photo via Depositphotos

comments powered by Disqus


Get the freshest property listings, latest news, and top real estate tips delivered straight to your inbox!