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When to Walk Away After Home Inspection

Buying a home is the biggest investment most of us will ever make, financially and emotionally. If you found the house of your dreams, there are a few things to look out for to keep it from turning into a future nightmare. Knowing when to walk away from a house is critical; below is our top list of things to avoid when house hunting.

Couple looking sad at each other with laptop.

Structural Issues

Fixing a home's structural issues can be one of the most expensive and time-consuming repairs. Structural issues might not be obvious, but there are signs to look for. This includes cracks along the foundation (especially horizontal, wide cracks the thickness of your fingernail or more or cracks that are wider at the top), a sagging roof, sloping floor, or doors or windows that don't work right, among other things. This is where a home inspection is critical! Finding a trustworthy inspector to catch these issues before you've signed anything is essential, as fixing them can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Water Damage and Mold

Be sure to check for any indication of water damage, mold, or mildew. Even if the walls look good, check under the carpets, inside cabinets, and around air conditioning and heating units for any wetness, water stains, musty odors, and warped floors. All are signs of hidden water damage, which can lead to mold growth. The inspection should uncover leaks, inadequate drainage, or plumbing problems that can lead to much bigger issues.

Outdated Electrical

You might not think about checking the electrical system or the breaker box, but if either is outdated, it can pose a severe safety risk. Homes with wiring that doesn't meet current safety codes could be susceptible to electrical fires, so it's important to have both inspected before you sign any contracts.

Bad Insulation

Insulation is another thing you wouldn't necessarily consider when buying a house. Sure, the kitchen is gorgeous, and the bedrooms are enormous, but if the house doesn't have proper insulation, your money is literally flying away every month. Ask your inspector what their opinion is on the status of the insulation so you'll know if it will need replacing in the near future. This is also something you can use as a bargaining tool. Work with your real estate agent on that; the seller might agree to replace the insulation or give you a better price on the house. If not, looking for a different house may be worth it.


Pests such as rodents and termites can cause a considerable amount of damage if not taken seriously. If your inspection uncovers any pest infestation or signs of activity (droppings, gnawed wood, nests, things like that), that's a serious concern. Depending on what is found and the severity of the infestation, the seller should address the issue before you commit to buying the house. If they don't, it's time to move on. Keep in mind that depending on location, some pests will always be a problem and can be challenging to manage.

Other Reasons to Walk Away from Buying a Home

  • Location
    You can change most things about your new home but not where it's located. Compromising on the location of your home may create pain points later on. Think about your home's proximity to work, freeways and major arterial roads, schools, grocery stores, and anywhere else that's important to you. You'll also want to consider noise levels (near a stadium or airport, for example), the quality of the schools and school district in the area you plan to move to, and whether or not the driveway faces a major road. It's hard to think about selling before you've even bought the house. Still, it's important to consider future resale value.
  • Old Heating System
    A new furnace or heat pump can cost tens of thousands of dollars. As much as the house itself is an investment, the heating system is too, so if the home you're looking at has an old system, either make sure you have enough saved to replace it when it does kick the bucket or pass on buying that house. If you decide to buy a home with an old heating system, know that it will probably use more electricity than a newer one and may not work as efficiently, so you'll be spending more money on your monthly heating bill, too.
  • Lien or Title Issues
    Any house with lien or title issues can become a huge problem. Clear ownership is essential when buying a home! Undisclosed liens, boundary disputes, and other title issues can lead to legal complications, financial headaches, and generally a lot of unnecessary stress. Request a thorough title search be done to ensure the property has a clean title before you commit to anything.

WaFd Bank is Here to Help

Our loan officers are here for you and are also good at math! We'll crunch the numbers for you to make sure you can get the most out of your savings, whether that's buying down your interest rate or putting all of it toward your down payment. With over 100 years of experience and a variety of home loan options, we're well-prepared to help you find the right solution for you. Give us a call at 800-324-9375, visit your neighborhood branch, or find a loan officer near you to get started today!

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