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Protect yourself against hidden defects in your new home

  • Homebuyers should hire a professional home inspector before finalizing a deal.

    Homebuyers should hire a professional home inspector before finalizing a deal.

Posted11/28/2016 12:01 AM

Buyer beware! If you're shopping for homes, pay attention to this warning.

Maybe you've found the perfect house in the perfect neighborhood. You're so excited about it that you downplay any potential problems. Before you finalize a deal, consider the following.


What if there is mold lurking in the crawl space? Or what about that water spot hiding behind the new wallpaper? Fresh paint on the deck? What if it's covering up rotted wood?

Although home sellers in Illinois are required to disclose in writing anything that affects the quality, healthfulness and safety of their property, many sellers try to hide defects in their home or omit telling you about disputes with the neighbors.

The seller's disclosure must include items such as past flooding and flood risk, unsafe conditions, municipal code violations, environmental issues, boundary line disputes and material defects in the structure and systems. Also, federal law requires disclosure of potential lead paint and other hazards, said Jason Solway, NMLS #1486679, Real Estate Loan Officer, of Consumers Credit Union based in Lake County with service centers in Lake County and Northwest Cook County.

Check it out for yourself or hire a professional inspector to give you the go-ahead on whether to purchase the home. Here are the most common problems home sellers may try to hide.

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Leaks / Mold

If there are any leaks, poor ventilation or flooding that hasn't been thoroughly dried, there can be mold hiding in the home. Keep your eyes peeled for standing water in the basement, water damage on the walls or ceiling and musty smells in the home. Some sellers may try to hide the smell with strong air fresheners.

Mold makes an ugly appearance and causes an unpleasant odor, but most importantly, it has been linked to many health issues. If you are going to make an offer on a home, make the sale contingent upon a satisfactory home inspection in case there is a mold problem.


A house can look beautiful and clean but still have termites. Termite damage can be difficult to spot; in fact, some homeowners might not know that termites are eating away at the insides of the walls. Some termite damage may not warrant completely walking away from the home. Assess the extent of the damage and what it takes to fix it or to eliminate the pests. An inspector can inspect for termites using thermal imaging.

Foundation and roof issues

Examine the foundation inside and out and look for any cracks bigger than one-third of an inch, which could mean serious structural issues that could be expensive to repair. If not repaired, foundation issues can lead to a lot of problems in the home.


Age of systems

Sellers might try to hide the ages of water heaters and HVAC systems with two simple words: "Don't know." But a home inspector could retrieve that information.

Noise and neighbor problems

Barking dogs, rocker teens, and blaring horns could be turnoffs to potential buyers. Sellers want to present their property in the best light and they may downplay these situations with well-timed open houses. During the week the area may get a lot of traffic on a nearby road or there could be a park behind the house attracts a lot of people for weekend sports.

Emotional defects

If you're a little squeamish, you might want to do a little detective work to learn of any emotional defects in the house such as a murder or suicide or talk of it being a haunted house. This information most likely will not be disclosed by the seller.

Visit the area at different times of the day and week to get an accurate picture of what it would be like to live in the neighborhood.

This article is sponsored by Consumers Credit Union.

For more information, contact Jason Solway, NMLS #1486679, Real Estate Loan Officer, at (847) 672-3415.

This article is sponsored by Consumers Credit Union.