Buying a home is one of the biggest financial investments you will make in your life. With so much at stake, it’s important to make sure you are purchasing a quality home that will stand the test of time. Here are ten things you should look for before making an offer on a home.

Look for foundation issues. While minor cracks can be a sign a house is settling; larger gaps can be a sign of serious foundation problems. According to, you should be on the lookout for telltale signs, including uneven floors, cracks above window frames, and sticking windows and doors. Never buy a home with foundation issues, or you could end up paying tens of thousands in repair costs.

Consider the sewer line. This is especially important if you are planning to purchase an older home. Start by looking over the trees. If they are mature, there’s a chance their roots might have invaded the underlying sewer lines. It’s generally best to have the system scoped to make sure there are no tree branches, roots or other debris clogging up the lines.

Search for signs of water damage. Inside the home, you should look for water stains and warped woodwork. Outside, you should check to make sure the ground slopes away from the base of the house. You should also double-check to make sure drainage pipes, downspouts and gutters will effectively carry excess water away from the house to prevent serious structural damage.

Stay within your means. Although you may technically be able to afford your preapproval amount, it should be viewed as your ceiling. In competitive real estate markets with limited inventory, homes tend to get multiple offers. According to the real estate experts at NerdWallet, shopping below your preapproval amount is a smart way to make sure you have some wiggle room for bidding.

Check the roof. Since a new roof can cost between $5,000 and $15,000, you want to give it a careful look. Search for signs of damage, including missing shakes or shingles. While you should ask how old the roof is, you shouldn’t necessarily worry if it was installed several years ago. A well-maintained roof can last decades if it’s well-installed and made from good material.

Prioritize key features. It’s important to have an idea of what you need and what you can live without before you begin your home-buying journey. The National Association of Home Builders recommends that buyers sit down with family members and their real estate agents to discuss preferences and necessities. Do you need a home office? Would you prefer large, open interior spaces? Be sure to differentiate your must-haves from the things you can live without before you start shopping for a new home.

Take the home’s temperature. Cooling and heating systems are expensive to replace and repair. Inefficient units can also result in higher utility costs. Make sure the home’s furnace is up to date and in good condition. You should also inspect the home’s water heater to make sure it’s modern and efficient enough to suit your family’s needs.

Inspect the exterior. The outside of a home can give you insight into how the property has been maintained. According to real estate experts at Quicken Loans, it’s important to carefully look over exterior siding for signs of peeling paint, cracks, rotting wood and other signs of decay. Look for cracked stucco and wavy siding, along with gaps around doors, windows, pipes, hose bibs, ducts and electrical fixtures, since these could be areas of water intrusion. It’s important to remember that water can seriously damage a home’s foundation, resulting in substantial repair costs down the line.

Inspect the plumbing. When you’re looking around the kitchen and bathrooms, get beneath the sink and assess the pipes. Look for leaks, rust, water damage and mold. Even a slight, slow leak can cause serious water damage over time. Carefully examine the areas around pipes to look for problematic signs, such as yellowish water stains or brand-new paint.

Check the insulation. Your new home should be comfortable and energy-efficient. Check the water pipes, attic and heating ducts to make sure they have been properly insulated. This can lower cooling and heating costs and keep you much more comfortable in winter and summer. You should also check the windows and doors to make sure they are properly sealed to keep out drafts.