What to look for when buying or renting a home

What to Know Before Buying or Renting a Home

Before renting or buying a home, you can avoid disastrous damage, expensive repairs, and unsafe conditions with a walk-through. As water damage and mold experts, we’re sharing tips to help you notice warning signs and understand the condition of your potential home before signing on the line.

What to Look for During a Home Walk-Through

While it’s easy to search for and fall in love with a home online, seeing it in-person is incredibly important. Not only can you get a better feel for the house, but you can check the exterior and interior for recent upgrades, potential risks, and regular maintenance. To help you properly assess a house during the walk-through, keep an eye out for the following areas before buying or renting a home.

Exterior Home Checks


As you walk around the outside of the home, look for signs of a damaged or sagging foundation. Check for cracks in the concrete slabs or brick, trees growing too near the foundation, signs of sloping walls, or separation between windows and doors. To understand how much this repair can affect you, see the average foundation repair costs as outlined by HomeAdvisor below:

2017 national average cost to repair a foundation


When inspecting a home, it’s common to forget about the property it sits on. However, improperly designed landscaping and natural water features are a major contributor to flooded basements and water damage in homes. While you inspect the outdoor area, make note of low-lying areas, drainage, landscaping, sprinkler systems, pools, or ponds. Inquire about past property water issues or recent updates to the drainage and irrigation systems.

Check the property for signs of faulty systems

Roof & Gutters

Replacing or repairing a damaged roof is one of the most expensive upgrades for homeowners. Depending on the size of the home and severity of the roof damage, you may wind up paying to replace the roof and fix underlying water damage.

Research by Angie’s List shows roofing repairs can cost between $5,000–$25,000, with an average cost of $12,000. During your home walk-through, check the roof for missing shingles, discolored areas from water damage, missing gutters, and cracked surfaces. Also, ask when the roof was last replaced.

Related: 10 Warning Signs Your Roof Is Damaged


Similar to checking interior paint and walls, inspecting a home’s exterior surfaces can tell you a lot about how it has been maintained. Check for cracked or missing boards, mold growth in shadowed corners or near the base, hanging electrical wires, and fresh paint. Oftentimes, warning signs of mold on the exterior may indicate more extensive problems within the home.

Surrounding Neighborhood

As you inspect the exterior of the home, remember to take a look around and notice the condition of other houses in the area and the streets. Does the house sit on a cul-de-sac or is it off of a busy street? If you have kids (or are planning to in the future), consider the local school system, nearby parks, and whether the area is family-friendly. Besides the quality of the property or rental home, there are many other factors to think of when deciding what’s best for you or your family.

Warning signs of mold and water leaks

Interior Home Checks


If you’re looking to buy or rent a house and wondering if it has roof damage, the attic usually shows tell-tale signs of accompanying water damage. While attics are not typically shown during a walk-through, this is a key place to check for warning signs of mold and water leaks. As you look around the attic, note any water spots, excessive condensation, improper ventilation, or discolored areas. If the HVAC system is stored in the attic, make sure there are no leaks underneath the machines.

Walls & Windows

Just as you you inspect the exterior windows and walls, take time to scan them in the interior. Notice shifts or sloping in walls, uneven window wells, bubbling paint (due to water damage), cracks, and patches of paint. Although it can be difficult to learn how to spot water damage in rental homes, these signs give you clues and can prompt questions about the home’s history.

Walls and windows water damage

Basement & Crawl Spaces

As the underbelly of every home, the basement is often overlooked in walk-throughs (especially if it’s unfinished). Luckily, this is the perfect time to check for warning signs of mold. As you walk down to the basement, pay attention to any dampness, musty smells, moist flooring, or exposed insulation. If the home has a crawl space, it’s best to leave the assessment to a crawl space inspection professional. However, you can ask questions about the home’s history with flooding, mold, or other water damage.


Well-maintained plumbing is key when looking to rent or buy a home. Don’t be afraid to look under sinks for signs of water leaks, check toilets for noises or malfunctions, inquire about sewer system maintenance, and check showers/bathtubs for cracks, broken tiles, mold or buckling paint.


Every home has a different setup for its heating and cooling systems, and the walk-through is a good time to learn more about them. Ask how the systems have been maintained and when they were installed. Additionally, check for excessive condensation, broken seals, or signs of water damage around the systems.

Working with your inspector

Working with Your Inspector

After walking through the house, create a list of questions or concerns to share with your inspector. If possible, be at the home inspection so he/she can answer questions and address your concerns. If you only get an inspection report back, make sure it’s comprehensive and covers all of your questions.

Combining Information to Make a Final Decision

Whether upgrading from an apartment or transitioning from another house, make sure to get a comprehensive inspection before deciding to buy or rent a home. If you do discover signs of water damage during the walk-through, reach out to a water damage restoration professional for an extensive assessment. If your home is in one of our service areas, note that we offer free mold and water damage assessments. We’re happy to help you prepare for renting or buying a home.

Learn more via 10 tips for first time homebuyers blog.

We service the following locations:

Colorado cities of Fort Collins, Loveland and Greeley, call us at 970-581-4498.

Wyoming cities of Laramie and Cheyenne, call us at 970-581-4498.

Albuquerque, New Mexico, call us at 505-250-6500.