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If you are a typical home buyer, you are likely to eliminate a home with a basement that has water stains or mildew on the walls or floors. Before you completely rule out a home that you really like because of a water issue, you should get an expert's opinion.
A basement can often be dried out easily. A new set of gutters, repairs to a plugged up outdoor drain, or simple regrading of soil around the foundation may solve the problem. A home inspector or water-proofing company can give you an idea about what is causing the dampness, as well as how much you will have to pay to waterproof the area. Sometimes the home owner will consider negotiating the repair costs with the buyers, especially if the alternative is no offer at all. If the house is a "fixer-upper" and priced accordingly, you could get an excellent value that more timid buyers might pass up.