Every expert we talked to cautioned about the wonders of a fresh coat of paint. “Paint can cover up a lot of issues, but eventually, those issues will come out,” Fuentes says. Issues like water damage, mold and rot, just to name a few. He suggests checking the disclosure agreement the seller sends you when you go into contract to see if the house has been painted recently. If it has, inspect it up close: “If you see any bubbles, stains, shadows or texture coming through, there’s probably something there,” he says. “Feel around that spot—if it doesn’t feel right, something’s there.”
6. There’s a Damp Smell
“If you ever smell anything funny, like a moisture smell, be careful, because there’s probably some kind of water damage in the house,” Fuentes says. While touring the home, open the cabinets and check under and around the sinks in the bathrooms and kitchen for bubbling or signs of damage. If the inside of a cabinet has been freshly painted, it may be worth finding out why.
Sometimes, though, mold can be lurking in areas an inspector wouldn’t find—and the seller may be totally unaware of—citing a recent case of a buyer who went to remodel the kitchen of the house she just bought, only to rip out the cabinets and tile, uncovering black mold everywhere.
If there’s a damp feeling to the air, it can be worthwhile to call in a mold inspector. “They can test the air and see if there are signs of particles and test the moisture levels in the house,” Fuentes says. “It might cost you an extra $500 to $600, but it could be worth it, especially if you have asthma or allergies.”