Many say that the two most important things to look at when purchasing a home is the foundation and the soil it sits on! Be sure to look not only at the foundation itself but also check on where it sits. The old-school method of detecting foundation problems still works: Drop a marble on the floor and see how far (and how fast) it rolls. Sloping or sagging floors can indicate serious foundation problems that can cost a fortune to fix, inspectors and appraisers warn.
Some cracks can be taken care of by quick fix. Minor vertical cracks may just need a sealant to prevent water from getting in. However, be careful of larger horizontal cracks that could indicate something a little more severe.
Even flatlanders can have geological problems if their homes are built on improperly compacted fill soil. But if a home is built on a slope or has retaining walls, you need to be extra cautious. Cracked stucco or siding, fractures radiating from door or window frames and doors that won't shut properly can all indicate earth movement.
If your home is located in an area where movement and instability are common a geotechnical engineer, who studies soil and earth movements, should know where major slide areas are, as well as where fill dirt was extensively used. Some people will go ahead with a purchase even though there's a risk of earth movement, Bell said, even though insurance doesn't typically cover such disasters. It's a potentially expensive gamble. A trade off can be made—Spectacular views may be a gamble, but if you play conservative opt for the flatlander house.