Pretty much every Buyer performs a home inspection before purchasing a new home right? True, but you don't have to wait to find out everything about a home until you have your inspection. There are at least 5 things you should look at even before you make an offer on a home. This will save you a lot of time and the heartache of falling in love with a home only to find out it is in need of serious repairs.
The first thing to look for or rather smell for in your potential new home is mold. Although mold is not a major concern in Albuquerque or Rio Rancho due to how arid our climate is, it still can be an issue when the conditions are right. Make sure to use your sniffer as you go through the home and pay attention to musty or damp smelling areas. Of special concern should be areas below grade, but any area can potentially have mold if there is a source of moisture.
Another thing to look for is signs of pests. A good REALTOR can point out obvious signs of termite damage in a home is they know what they are looking for. Like mold, termites are also not a major source of concern in Albuquerque, Rio Rancho or the surrounding areas but there are certain areas where termites are more prevelent. A seasoned REALTOR who works in the areas you are looking can be a big help in know whether there is a history of termites in the area.
Electrical wiring is also something you should look at when considering your real estate purchase. Many areas with older homes including the NE Heights area of Albuquerque have aluminum wiring. Aluminum wiring can create the potential for fire if it is not corrected in an acceptable manner. Aluminum wiring can be corrected by "pig tailing" the aluminum wiring to copper at all of the connections. Many homes have aluminum wiring and it should not be something to scare you off since it is fixable, but you do need to consider the cost of correcting it if it has not already been done. You should also look for outlets or fixtures that are not secured properly or exposed wiring. A good REALTOR can recommend a good electrician to give quotes or perform any repairs that are necessary to the electrical system.
Many homeowners like to perform do-it-yourself projects around their homes. This is perfectly acceptable as long as the work performed is done in a quality workmanlike manner. Sometime however, homeowners do work that is less than quality. Look for signs of DIY projects that have been done and pay careful attention to how that may affect the function or value of the home. It cannot be stressed enough that the trained eye of a good REALTOR can be invaluable in pointing out potential problem areas since they see the common issues so often.
Lastly, a major source of problems can be sewer drainage pipes. Many old homes have drain pipes that are broken or even completely collapsed. A slow draining sink or tub can be the result of clogged internal pipes that can be easily remedied or it can be the sign of a much larger problem under the home or out in the yard. A sewer scope inspection will allow you to see the inside of the pipes, but going through the home and running sinks and tubs to see how they drain will give you an initial indication of whether there is a problem.
Purchasing a home is a big decision and making sure that you do your due diligence before you fall in love with the home and the clouding of your mind that can come with that is very important. Ask you REALTOR to help you in staying objective with the home and potential repairs. No home is perfect, not even new homes so don't start with an unrealistic expectation. That being said, you need to be aware of the current condition of the home, short term repairs that are needed and long term repairs that you will need to plan for.