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What to look for as a prospective homebuyer

Beyond size, style; Here are telltale signs of house trouble

SAN ANTONIO – When you walk into a home you are interested in buying, there are key things you can see with the naked eye that can tell you more about the quality of the house than just its size or décor. 

"The first thing would be start with the foundation," said general contractor, Rick Reed. "If the foundation fails, its going to start transferring damages all the way up -- even to the roof."

Reed said testing the doors inside a home can help you spot foundation problems.

He suggests opening and closing the doors of a home and "if the door sticks, that means there's activity in the foundation."

Also, look for cracks coming from the corners of doors or windows or a wrinkle where the ceiling meets the walls.

"You would see a wrinkle if the ceiling was trying to move without the wall," said Reed.

Have you ever brought along a golf ball when house hunting? 

Reed said it can be a helpful tool in testing a home's foundation by placing the ball on the floor to see if it rolls.

"If it starts to go in one direction, then obviously the foundation is lower in the direction that it's going," he said. 

Flood damage is another potential problem, and you can look for outward signs such as discoloration on baseboards, stains on ceilings or damage under sinks.

"If it's leaking or your angle stops are leaking either hot or cold, it will drip down into your wood vanity and the wood vanity will eventually rot out," Reed said.

He also suggests getting "hands on" as a prospective buyer and testing the features of the house that have on/off switches, like lights, ovens and even ice-makers. 

And don't forget to test the plumbing by turning on faucets and flushing toilets. 

While these tips can help you spot any outward signs of trouble, a full home inspection done by a professional will give you a more thorough indication of any potential problems. 


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