For buyers looking for a new home, any property-related problem can become a deal-breaker. Most home shoppers can recognize a house with potential. But, when the moment of truth comes, can you determine which issues are easily changed or fixed, compared to those that can turn a new home into a money pit?

Here's how to identify those problems that could potentially break the bank versus those that require only a little time, effort and money to fix.

What Does "Cosmetic Work" Mean?

Cosmetic repairs are those that can be easily fixed or redone without opening up walls or modifying any of the home's major systems. Basically, it's when the finishing touches need some updating. In many cases, cosmetic changes require only a trip to the home store, a bit of elbow grease and a little imagination.

Check the Floor Plan

As a home buyer, you should focus more on identifying any issues that can't be easily changed, and the floor plan is a big one! Where do you want the kitchen in relation to the rest of the home? How many bedrooms do you need? Where is the master bedroom located?

These are more important than the color of the paint on the walls or the condition of the carpet. If the house is laid out the way you like it, you're already on the right track. However, unless you're willing to undertake a major structural renovation, you're probably stuck with the current floor plan.

Evaluate the Hidden Aspects of the Home

Although you will engage a home inspector to do a thorough check before a potential purchase, you can do a little preliminary work yourself. If you can discover major problems in the home yourself, you might save the cost of a home inspection that reveals even more problems than you care to tackle.

For example, check under sinks for water marks from old leaks. Examine the furnace and the air filter as well as the electrical breaker box. Check out exterior walls for suspicious cracking in stucco or block. These can indicate how the property has been cared for by the owners.

It's All About Quality

Pay attention to the little things that go beyond cosmetics. Are the doors solid? Are the tile floors level and uniform, or cracked and popped up? If the home has recently been renovated in any way, look for little indicators to let you know if the work was done to cover up deeper problems. Even if the home has some cosmetic issues, it could be a worthy investment if it's solidly built.

How Does it Smell?

Some smells should raise red flags for you. If the house smells musty, that may be a sign of bigger issues for potential home buyers, because it usually indicates a problem with moisture. Also be on the lookout for the overuse of air fresheners. This may mean that the owners are trying to cover up mold or water damage.

Even if you are familiar with the signals of a potential problem, experts recommend having a home inspection prior to submitting an offer to buy. Having an experienced RealtorĀ® on your side is another excellent way to avoid buying a future money pit. A licensed agent or broker knows exactly what to look for and can help you identify whether a home has real problems or if it simply needs a little updating.

Contact the experienced RealtorsĀ® of the Edie Israel Team today. We specialize in protecting the best interests of all our home buyer and seller clients.