The home inspection is that pivotal event you hold your breath for when you’re buying a house. It’s an opportunity for a licensed home inspector to scrutinize every inch of your potential new place for problems—both minor ones and the deal-killing kind.
But when so much is on the line, why wait until the inspection to start investigating? Open houses and private showings are the perfect time to get a little nosy. Let us be clear: We’re certainly not suggesting you should forgo the expertise of a home inspector. But you can get a jump-start so that you can turn your inspector’s attention to some potential problem areas.
These eight crucial problems can be easily uncovered—even without a home inspector license.
So go ahead and take a peek.
1. Cracking caulking
Get on your knees and examine the caulking around the sinks and tubs. While cracking could just be a sign of age, it also might indicate mold inside the wall (a no-go, unless you’re up for a major challenge).
“Any cracks or holes must be taken care of before you go further,” says Bill Horne, a former landlord and commercial real estate owner. Keep an eye out for dark stains, too, which also might indicate something nasty growing underneath.