Philly has a lot to offer when you are looking for a home. The city features a compelling mix of historic, older homes as well as recent construction. Older homes certainly have their charms, but they can also raise a few red flags for potential buyers. It’s easy to get caught up on the little details and miss serious problems. When you’re looking for a home, especially an older home, let the superficial things slide, but be diligent about avoiding the expensive internal issues.

Avoid: Water Damage

Water damage can almost always be a dealbreaker when you’re looking for a home. If the house has a basement, take a look at the walls, near the floor. If you see water damage, it can mean that the house has issues with flooding and drainage. Damage on the walls in the upper part of the house can mean either that the roof leaks or that there’s some wrong with the plumbing. All are expensive things to fix and will add considerably to the cost of your new home.

You Can Deal: Ugly Paint and Flooring Choices

The look of a home can automatically turn you off or make you feel jazzed about buying it. Remember that paint and flooring are two things that you can fix very easily, either by hiring someone or by rolling up your sleeves and doing the job yourself. A wall color that disagrees with you should never be a reason to leave an otherwise lovely home behind. The same is true of flooring. If you absolutely hate the wooden floors in the house, remember that you can always cover them up with a few strategically placed throw rugs.

Avoid: Foundation Concerns

Sometimes, a crack is just a crack. Other times, it is a cause for alarm and can translate into many thousands of dollars to repair. When you’re looking for a home, pay close attention to the doors and windows. If they stick, that should raise a few alarms bells, as it can mean that their frames are out of shape, due to shifts in the foundation. A crooked floor or angled cracks across the drywall are other common signs that there’s a major issue with the foundation and major structural damage to the home.

You Can Deal: No Central Air

Plenty of old homes in Philly lack central air. In the midst of summer, you’ll see lots of window units whirring away. If the home you’re looking at doesn’t come equipped with central air but is otherwise nearly perfect, don’t let the lack of a/c stop you from buying it. Remember, summer is only three months out of the year. Installing your own central air system won’t be cheap, around $2,000, but it shouldn’t be enough to prevent you from getting the home.

Could Go Either Way: Lead Paint

Lead paint is common in older homes in Philly. If a person eats lead paint chips or breathes in lead paint dust, he can become very ill or suffer brain damage. Whether it’s a deal breaker or something you can handle depends on your circumstances. The process of removing lead paint is complicated and expensive, so if you ever think you’ll need to remove it, that is something you need to consider before you buy.

Older homes tend to have many secrets. While you can see some red flags with your own two eyes, some issues can’t be clearly seen. Hiring an home inspector before you go forward with a home purchase is a must to catch those hidden dealbreakers.