When shopping for a home, are you are willing to forgive a few minor, easily fixed defects on an otherwise perfect home? The challenge comes in knowing when the issue is just cosmetic or when it may be symptoms of a deeper, and often more costly, problem. The following can help you determine when to place an offer and when to walk away.

Foundation cracks

Visible cracks in the foundation aren't an immediate sign of trouble. For example, vertical or nearly vertical cracks are relatively common and a normal sign of settling – they are not typically a reason to be concerned. Diagonal cracks are also usually of no concern, although you may want to insist on an inspection. Both can be quickly filled as a permanent fix. Horizontal cracks, on the other hand, can indicate a severe foundation issue that is actually causing the foundation to bow. The fix can be quite expensive, since these cracks indicate structural problems.

Structural Issues

A structural issue usually indicates uneven settling or poor construction. Signs include gaps between components, sticking windows and doors, and interior wall cracks. A single sticking window or crack at the corner of a door isn't usually cause to be concerned, especially in older homes. If you notice that several windows stick, especially on the same wall, this could indicate an issue with the actual frame of the building. Or, porch steps that have pulled away slightly from the home aren't a major concern although you may want to replace them. On the other hand, a chimney that is completely pulling from the house could result in a costly rebuild or damage to the main structure.

Electrical systems

Another issue that often catches homebuyers unaware are electrical problems. These can be costly to remedy, and dangerous if they are left alone. You will need to make sure the circuit breaker box is modern and up to current code. It is also a good idea to have every line and outlet tested to make sure they are properly installed, working, and grounded appropriately. Although most electrical problems don't mean you should walk away with a purchase, you may want to make any offer on the home contingent upon the current owner updating the system.

For more help, contact a real estate agent, like one from Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, in your area. They can help you spot potential issues as well as work with the sellers to fix any major problems.