Eight Things For Buyers To Watch Out For

January 10, 2009


Make Sure to Look Carefully Before Buying

Make Sure to Look Carefully Before Buying

When out with buyers for the first time, I explain that there is much more to a home or condo than meets the eye. Here’s a list of items I suggest you look at. I simply look for whatever may look like a potential problem that will cost money. I’m not an inspection or construction expert, but if I see something that looks suspicious, I always recommend having a professional look at the problem, especially if my client is thinking about making an offer.


  • Windows I typically like to look at windows to determine if they have been replaced recently. I like to see double- or triple-paned glass and tight seals for energy efficiency.
  • Tuck Pointing On a brick building, I like to see if the property has had the mortar between bricks repaired recently (this repair is called tuckpointing in Chicago). I look to see if the mortar is crumbling or if it’s still solid.
  • Split-Face Cinder Blocks If the property is built of split-face cinder block?which many new buildings in Chicago are?I look for weeps (cotton cords sticking out of the walls and under windows) to allow for drainage of moisture. Also, always ask the listing agent for the last time the building was re-sealed. If they do not or cannot get you an answer, find out why. These blocks need to be resealed about every seven years and it’s a bit pricey.
  • Roof If the roof is visible, I look to see if the shingles are bubbling or if there is more than one layer of shingle. You can sometimes determine this by seeing more than one color of shingle at the edge.


  • Heater I typically like to head to the basement or utility room first. I want my client to see if the gas-forced-air heater has been updated recently, and whether the area is clean and relatively free of dust and clutter.
  • Electrical I also will find the electrical panel and check to see if it provides 100- or 200-ampere service. The average home today has to support many electrical and electronic devices. The more amps a home has available, the better.
  • Water Heater The next item on my list is the water heater. I look on the label to see how many gallons it is and if it has been replaced recently.
  • Water Marks In a single-family dwelling with a basement, I look for water marks to determine if the property has had water in the basement at any time. If the property has had water, it’s relatively easy to smell mold or must as well.

I suggest looking at these items first and foremost because these are problems that are likely to cost  clients the most money should they purchase the property, and in today’s economy, tt’s important to save every dime. Having a newer roof, energy efficient windows, and a properly maintained heater along with a well maintained exterior structure can save thousands. The cosmetic items in a home are important, but they will not likely cost the buyer money?cosmetic issues can be repaired, replaced, or restored with less expense as compared to a new roof, etc.

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About Katie Anderson

Katie Anderson is a respected and successful broker at Sudler Sotheby's Realty as well as a certified appraiser. She specializes in representing clients who purchase and sell condominiums, town homes, single-family homes and income property in the Chicago land area. In her small amount time in the real estate game (she became an agent in 2003) she has assisted in excess of 400 deals and over $200 million in sales and continues to use her skills as a certified appraiser. Katie resides in Chicago's Bucktown neighborhood with her loving husband and 4-year-old-daughter, where she spends much of her spare time with her family and friends. You can contact her at katie@thechicago77.com or at andersonbraack.com

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