Plumbing problems lurking beneath a home revealed by a thorough inspection

As tempting as it may be to close on a home quickly – given the competitive nature of today's real estate market – buyers would be wise to remember to follow proper homebuying criteria, including going through the home inspection process.

Mortgage interest rates that have remained near record lows, along with depressed home values across much of the nation, have provided a gold mine of opportunities for prospective homebuyers who have the financial resources to support such a purchase. With these factors in mind, it should not be surprising that existing home sales climbed 3.4 percent from April to May, according to new figures from the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Before purchasing an existing home, buyers need to be cautious throughout the purchasing process, as a property that may initially appear to be ideal for their needs could hide costly plumbing and sewage issues that leave the buyer footing the bill.

Sewer systems could be at increased risk of being compromised if the home is more than 20 years old or if there are an abundance of trees close to the home. Root systems of larger trees could upset underground plumbing without a homeowner realizing it until problems have already started to develop. This is not uncommon.

"Just a couple of years after purchasing our home, we had a $15,000 sewer line disaster in our lap," Cincinnati resident Jennifer Schappacher told The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on May 22. "The sewer line clogs began not long after we moved in, but as they became more frequent … we [realized] the pipe had offset sections and a partial collapse that was causing sewage to back up into our house."

Homebuyers who work with a trusted Washington, D.C. home inspector are less likely to encounter these difficulties and other property snafus, as most problems with homes will be found well before a purchase agreement is signed.