You found your dream home, but after paying for an inspection, you discover that the house requires a lot more improvements than you thought it did. Before you completely fall in love with the home and make your offer, there are some things you can check out about the house on your own, so you do not spend the time and money on a property full of expensive surprises.

Here are a few things you can check for yourself when you are ready to consider making an offer on the home.

The Little Things

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Take the time to look at the little things in the house. Open the closets and drawers, open and close the windows and doors, check if the locks work. Flush the toilets, run the sinks and the shower, run the dishwasher, turn on the stove, inspect the fridge and any other appliances that are staying. Turn all the lights off and on, check any ceiling fans.

These may seem like small, inconsequential things, but even one of these things not working can be frustrating to you once you have moved in.

The Basement

While in the basement, sniff around — literally. You are looking for a damp, musty smell, which usually means mold or rot. Look for a dehumidifier, that is a clear indicator that the basement is wet.

You will also want to look for stains or rot where the basement stairs touch the floor and where the walls and floor or ceiling meet.

The Furnace

If the home has a furnace, you will find it in the basement. While the owner could have just changed the filter the morning before you came over, a clean furnace is often a good sign. If you see spare filters somewhere in the house, you will have a better idea of how well the owner has taken care of the furnace.

There should be a home service log that shows the furnace has been inspected at least once a year. A professional can give you better insight, but these are some surface issues you can look for.

Water Damage

This is one of the most expensive things to have repaired, and homeowner's insurance policies generally do not cover the repairs. Therefore, some owners may try to hide the signs of water damage when they sell the home.

They may have tried to re-caulk and grout the tiles in the bathrooms. If you tap on the tiles where they meet the floor of the tub or shower, they should sound and feel solid. If they sound hollow, you can press gently on them to see if there is any give; that is a clear sign of water damage.

The Roof

Roof issues are common in many homes, but you probably should not climb up on the roof the inspect it yourself. Instead, look for any shingles at the corners of the house that are cupping. Look for sagging when you can and look up at the ceiling on the top floor of the house. You need a professional to give you an official determination on the roof, but taking a glance at what you can is a good idea.

Todd Wilkinson is the Founder and Owner of FonHome Realty.  FonHome is a customer-centric brokerage where our clients are in control and our experienced agents are respected for providing the positive and exciting experience the real estate transaction should be. Todd is an accomplished real estate investor with an undergraduate degree in Financial Economics and a Masters’s degree in Business Administration.  Todd has held senior management and executive-level positions with the world’s two largest retailers and a successful startup venture.  Todd has served terms on the University of Arkansas Advisory Board and is actively involved with the St. Theresa School in Kenilworth.  Todd opened his own brokerage after feeling underserved in his personal experiences with real estate transactions and wanted a firm whose mission was on serving the fiduciary responsibilities guaranteed to the Buyer and Seller.  Contact Todd today for a free Comparable Market Analysis for your home or for advice on beginning your search for a new home at