Vertigo -- Say What? Old Houses, Sloping Floors and Inconsistent Outcomes

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Olsen Ziegler Realty

Vertigo Real EstateHas anyone ever experienced a vertigo-like sensation in a home (usually very old homes) with more than the usual sloping floors?  If so, I would love to hear your perspective, stories, and outcome.  If not, please let me know that too.

For those of you agents, home inspectors, appraisers and the like, who have never experienced this, the feeling is akin to feeling light-headed, varying degrees of wooziness or a mild form of how you feel after you get off a merry-go-round.

I once was in an old home where I and one of the buyer's both experienced vertigo-like symptoms from the sloping floors.  I regularly show old homes and I have been in many an old home with sloping floors.  It is not uncommon for 80+ year old homes to have varying degrees of sloping, and for me to not experience these symptoms.  I have also experienced this vertigo-like feeling a few times in the past when viewing homes with moderate to significant settling, but it's not consistent.  I have been in some houses for quite some time with sloping floors and experienced nothing.

ENT medical professionals seem to indicate it depends on a person's inner-ear sensitivities and balance and tend to take a medical perspective.

So...I just know that there exists a practicing {REALTOR, appraisers, home inspectors and the like} who also has a professional background with Ph.D in physiology, anatomy, and an M.D. with a specialty of Otolaryngology.  Seriously though...I have never seen this topic discussed anywhere in any real estate professional trade magazine, conference, continuing education or informal discussions.

Apart from the individual consequences to a particular buyer who may have to live with these symptoms, there could be potential resale issues as well if future buyers experience it as well.

Moreover, an architect once told me that lifting/jacking/raising the floors, joists, support beams to level uneven floors out can be very costly as plaster will crack, flooring may have to be replaced, and thereby requiring the removal of many things that makes old homes special.

If you have never experienced this sensation yourself, I would love a quick comment indicating that as well so  anecdotal evidence can at least provide a tiny bit of insight as to what the AR population as a whole has experienced -- or not!



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Dagny Eason
Dagny's Real Estate - Wilton, CT
Fairfield County CT, CDPE Homes For Sale and Condo

Sooo true!!   If you don't see the floors sloping right away, your brain lets you know in a hurry!   Sometimes the slant is too excessive to live with.....

Jan 16, 2010 02:15 PM #1
Dean Carver
United Brokers Group/Carver Home Team - Ahwatukee, AZ

Wow, haven't experienced vertigo, but you can certainly see all of the corners that don't match up. We previewed a gorgeous old home in Wisconsin where the floors where actually rippled in deep rolls. There were steel support beams under the first floor and the foundation had sunk. Very strange. Too many issues to be of interest at the time.

Jan 16, 2010 02:19 PM #2
Marchel Peterson
Results Realty - Spring, TX
Spring TX Real Estate E-Pro

Chris, I have a Masters in Audiology but left the field many years ago.  I do remember all those lectures about vertigo though. I have had those times in a home where I look at the floor and think is it just me or is that sloping.

Jan 16, 2010 02:20 PM #3
Renée Donohue
Savvy Home Strategies Realty, LLC-REALTOR®-Estate-Probate - Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas Real Estate Broker -

The only time I experienced a home like this is when I was selling my first year in Nebraska back in the mid 90s.  The foundation was cracked and the repairs would have run into the tens of thousands.

Jan 18, 2010 06:57 AM #4
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Chris, I must be used to them!  We have, not only sloping floors, but sloping stairs as well in many of the old homes in Georgetown and Capitol Hill.  And usually it's considered part of the old house charm.

Jan 19, 2010 10:38 AM #5
Jane Peters
Home Jane Realty - Los Angeles, CA
Connecting you to the L.A. real estate market

I would not recognize a sloping floor if it hit me in the face.  Often I go into a house with a client and they point out that the floor is sloping.  You could have fooled me.

Jan 21, 2010 04:36 PM #6
Marianne Grant, Realtor
Jack White Real Estate - Anchorage, AK
CRS 907-529-6602


I noticed some slight slopes in my own home, and they drive me crazy.

Houses in Alaska tend to rise and fall with the freezing and thawing of the ground and the many earthquakes we have, small and not so small. Buyers usually understand and accept some movement. But when cracks appear in walls, doors are out of whack, and pencils roll to the other side of the room - well then it is time to call in the structural engineer to assess the health of the foundation... Often times problems go away during the brief summer period, but driveways have to be redone regularly every couple of years...  Take care, Marianne


Jan 31, 2010 05:07 PM #7
SarahGray Lamm
Allen Tate Realtors Chapel Hill, NC 919-819-8199 - Chapel Hill, NC
Realtor - 100K Hours of NC Real Estate Experience

Oh yea! Been there, done that! A soon as I feel it I take out my lip balm. I place it on the high side of the floor and let it roll downhill. My buyer always says "Wow!"

Feb 01, 2010 11:58 PM #8
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Chris Olsen

Broker Owner Cleveland Ohio Real Estate
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