The 10 most important things to look for during a home showing

Home showings are an essential part of the home-purchasing process and are the best time for the buyer to get a feel for their potential new home. During this phase, you begin to envision what it would be like to live in the property or how your tenants might like it.

But before anyone signs on any dotted lines, there are a few things that are imperative to take note of. As a showing agent or a buyer, knowing how to spot signs of potential issues during home tours is a must, because noticing problems upfront will save countless dollars and headaches down the line.

Here are the ten most important things to look for during home showings.

One of the best showing tips is not to forget to look down during home showings. Take notice of any wear and tear on the flooring as you walk around, and check that everything is in good order. This includes looking for things like the following:

Orange character looking at the floor

Hardwood & Laminate Floors:

  • Unsightly scratches and chips that you may want to have repaired
  • Large and irregular gaps in wood flooring that can signal a poor-quality installation
  • Cupping (when the border is higher than the center) that can point to water leaks


  • Grout damage will lead to major issues with leaks, so check that none is cracked or missing
  • Cracked or loose tiles aren’t always immediately visible, so take a close look for any faulty ones  

Carpeted Areas:

  • Bubbles or humps are caused by poor installation and can be a trip hazard
  • Gaps around the edge mean the carpet is shrinking due to age and needs to be replaced

Lastly, by paying attention to the unusual sloping of the floors, you may be able to detect potential foundation problems.

Woman testing a cabinet during a home showing

It might feel like you’re being intrusive to look inside cabinets and drawers during home tours, but it’s an important part of a showing that many agents and buyers overlook.

Faulty cabinets can be a headache to fix and replace, so take the time to check the mechanisms by opening and closing them all. Cabinets can also hide a multitude of worrying issues, including mold, rotten wood, and faulty wiring, so look for anything that could be costly to fix later down the line. Many problems can be found by looking under the kitchen and bathroom sinks, so don’t skip taking a look here, too.

Curb appeal is important for two reasons: You want to love where you live and also get a good return on your investment when it’s time to sell. When you drive up to the showing, take note of the other homes on the street. Do the neighbors maintain their properties well? How does the neighborhood look overall?

When you arrive at the property you’re viewing, take a moment to look at it from the street and consider the home’s aesthetics (we’ll talk about checking the property’s structure next). Is the front door in good condition, and if there’s any fencing or gates are they intact? If the property has a driveway or garage, are they in good condition and is there plenty of space for your vehicle(s)? Any repairs or improvements needed to bring the property up to scratch will be your responsibility, so be sure that they aren’t more than you’re willing to take on.

Ladies not impressed by a home exterior
Exterior home damage

Most experienced showing agents are aware that foundational issues can sometimes be visible from the outside of the property and that it’s worth taking the time to walk around and check for issues. 

Cracks can be a sign of weakening and aging and could even signal that there are unsafe structural issues. While you’re outside, check that the brickwork and rendering is all in good condition and that gutters aren’t visibly blocked or in need of repairs. If the property is a house, look at the roof to be sure that no tiles are missing or broken.

Nasty smells can be unpleasant to live with and can also make it difficult to re-sell the property, so follow your nose during home showings. Pay particular attention to the presence of the following odors:

Woman discovers an unpleasant smell during a home showing
  • Pet smells – litter boxes and dog beds are often the culprits of any odors, but pet urine can work its way into carpets and floorboards and is a cause for concern
  • Cigarette smoke – cigarette odor will linger inside a property if the owner smokes and is one of the trickiest smells to get rid of, so it’s something to check for
  • Food odors – strong food smells can cling to fixtures and upholstery, so pay close attention to what your nose is telling you in the kitchen and adjoining rooms
  • Musty scents – musty smells can be a sign of mold, leaks, and water damage, so ask about any mildewy scents
  • Artificial scents – if the property smells strongly of air freshener, this could be a sign that the property owner is trying to mask bad smells

If you notice any of the above odors, bear in mind that the issue will be something you’ll need to spend time and money on fixing. Some odors come from outside of the house and cannot be remedied. Pay attention to smells outside of a home that could potentially impact the home’s value. The most common smells come from farms, industrial sites, garbage dumps and sewage treatment ponds.

Water damage and mold can be unpleasant shocks if found in a newly purchased property, so look for the signs during home showings. Not only can they lead to woodworm and fungal decay, but they can also cause health problems and be tough to get rid of. 

First, look for water marks, warping, staining, or discoloration on the walls or ceilings. Blistered paint, peeling wallpaper, and bulges can also be signs of water lurking behind the walls.

Floors can also be a good place to look for signs of damp. A great trick is to bounce up and down a little as you walk around (especially in front of the sinks and toilets). If the flooring feels like it’s giving more than normal or feels strangely soft, it could be that a leak has damaged the floor. 

Opening Appliances at a home showing

Check any appliances, such as refrigerators and stoves, that are included in the purchase of the property. They may look great from the outside, but they could be dirty, not functioning properly, or even dangerous.

Take a look inside each appliance and make sure that they switch on and work as you’d expect them to. If wiring is accessible, take a look at it to ensure nothing looks worn or damaged. 

The property is likely to have an HVAC system if it’s located in a warmer or colder climate, and replacing a faulty system is a significant cost that you don’t want to get stuck with. Hold your hand to the vents to check whether hot/cool air is blowing from the vent. If the unit isn’t switched on, adjust the temperature and listen for it kicking on.

If the property has a garden, take a walk around it. Look for any plants that could cause issues or may require more maintenance than you’re willing to commit to. Take note of any trees in the garden, paying particular attention to their distance from the house and whether they could potentially be dangerous. Also, keep a lookout for signs of root rot which can be challenging to take care of.

If you’re lucky enough to be viewing a home with a pool, check to see what condition it’s in and how much upkeep it’ll require if you decide to buy the property. 

Functional windows are an important element of a property’s security, energy efficiency, and aesthetics. Open, close, and lock one or two windows to check they work. Run a finger along the windows to check for condensation as this could be a sign of poor insulation, and if the property is older make sure that the frames aren’t rotting or cracked. 

If you live in a state like Florida, you should also ask if the windows are hurricane compliant to keep you and the property safe in stormy weather.

Home tours give buyers the chance to explore a property and discover all the things they like about it. But they should also be used to spot potential problems that could be costly to fix. We recommend that you hire a professional inspection company at some point during the transaction.

There’s much more that a licensed showing agent should be pointing out during home showings, but in our opinion, these are the ten most important things to watch out for.

Good luck with your next showing — here’s hoping that none of the issues in this post show up in the property. But if they do, at least you spotted them early!

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