Whenever I'm showing property I'm always looking for fault...what's wrong with this house? I am especially on the look out for one of a home owner's worst nightmares...water. Although I'm not a home inspector, I am an observant person. Plus, I think I've been selling real estate long enough and attended enough home inspections to know the signs...and smells of moisture and water entry.
Stains on the Ceiling
When yellow or brownish stains are on the ceiling there are two things that cross my mind. If I'm on the first floor and see stains on the ceiling I think there must be a bathroom directly above the stained area. This could be an old plumbing issue that was repaired, but the ceiling never got repainted. Or it could be a new leak. If there isn't a bathroom above, I think it could be some type of leak from the central air conditioning. If I'm on the second floor and see stains, I think the roof may be failing.
Water Marks on the Wall
When I see water marks on the wall I am usually in a basement. Either the washing machine or hot water heater severely overflowed or there was another type of flood. I will open the exterior basement door to see if there is a drain and see if that drain is clogged. I also check the down spouts and gutters. If the down spouts don't have elbows, the water runs directly into the side of the house showing up on the basement wall and often times weakening the foundation of the house.
The home owner can make some simple and inexpensive repairs. The issues only become larger when the home owner ignores or delays the repairs. Over time, water weakens everything it touches. What could have been an easy bathtub caulk job can turn into a tub, floor and ceiling replacement. Simply removing leaves and trash from blocking an exterior drain could prevent a flooded basement.
Ask the Home Inspector
None of these observations are rocket science, you just have to look. When showing property you can point these things out these potential issues to your buyer. Check the Disclosures to see if they mention anything about leaks or water damage. It's all part of your job. By doing so you can avoid some surprises during the home inspection and you can ask the home inspector to look at the areas more closely to help determine the cause.
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