Signs of flooding issues home buyers should look for before finalizing

Local News

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — East Tennesseans have been dealing with a lot of rain recently, and several, unfortunately, are dealing with flooded basements because of it.

Realtors in Knoxville said it’s a buyer’s market for real estate, but how do you know if the home you’re looking at wasn’t damaged in recent floods?

A water-logged basement is the most obvious sign, but there is a good chance everything will be dry during the home tour.

Cheri Spinazzola, a broker with Slyman Real Estate, said hiring a realtor is a big help when it comes to spotting obscure issues like past flooding.

“When we go in, the first thing I’m going to look at before we even see the property is to see if it’s in a flood plain. And if it’s not in a flood plain, it doesn’t mean that it’s never going to have any moisture problems in the house,” Spinazzola said.

“Sometimes, or lots of times, when my clients are looking at the house, looking at the prettiness of the house, I’m actually looking at the walls, the floors, especially in basements because I want to know if the concrete is cracked or if I see cracks in the wall,” Angel Scott, principle broker at Century 21 Legacy-Bearden, said.

A previously flooded home doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not good to buy, according to Spinazzola and Scott.

Almost any water or foundation can be fixed, but knowing the problems beforehand can save the buyer some money.

What are the signs realtors look for and buyers should as well?

“If you have any smells, that you come in and you can smell mold, you know that there’s going to be an issue. If you see, obviously, black mold on the walls, there’s going to be a problem. But, it’s not always so obvious.”

Cheri Spinazzola, broker with Slyman Real Estate

She said sellers are required to disclose any kind of water damage, and they could be sued if they don’t.

Spinazzola and Scott said when signs of water damage are obvious or aren’t obvious, they suggest a home inspector.

Barry Jenkins, a sales inspector with Master Services, said you don’t have to walk through water to know if there has been water damage.

“Obviously if there’s any kind of mold, or musty smell in the basement, or crawl space, you’ll know that there’s something going on and there’s probably some humidity behind the walls. We look for efflorescent staining. That’s going to be dark stains on the block and some minerals coming through the wall,” Jenkins said.

He said there are signs to look for on the outside of the home as well, such as making sure gutter spouts are diverted away from the home or if the low spots in the regrading of the yard is sloping towards the house.

“You can tell if your house is built inside of a hill, you look at the side that’s backed into the hill, that’s probably where the moisture is going to start coming in,” Jenkins said.

He said home inspectors should always use a moisture thermometer to detect hidden spots of moisture behind walls.

Scott and Spinazzola said they would be honest with their clients if they felt that the house was damaged beyond easy repairs, but, again, the two and Jenkins said that previous water or foundation damage doesn’t mean a house shouldn’t be bought.

The house would need to be repaired to prevent more problems down the road.

That’s also where Master Services comes in.

Jenkins and his team can install a water guard system, which comes with a lifetime warranty.

It’s an interior drainage system designed to sit on top of the footer to effectively drain water from the wall, the footing wall joint and underneath the slab.

The system will lead to a sump pump that discharges the water into a lower part of the yard.

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