One of the best things you can do is have a home inspector visit the home you plan to purchase to see if the home you are buying has any unforseen problems.
One question that seems to be commonly asked among those who are interested in buying real estate, is whether or not a real estate inspection is really necessary. The long and short answer to that question is absolutely and I will do my best to explain exactly why this is so.
First of all, a real estate inspection is the act of having a qualified (and in many states, licensed) professional take a look around the property you are considering and informing you of obvious and potential damage or problems with the property. This is not something you want your Uncle Bill doing, unless of course, good old Uncle Bill has had the training and experience to know what to look for in an inspection and know what those things could mean.
Many first time home buyers have the attitude that they know there are problems with the property. The problem is that the untrained eyes may miss some problems that should be addressed before moving along to other problems.
For instance, if there were obvious signs of plumbing problems that could result in a leak behind the wall, you wouldn't want to paint that wall or replace the floors until you had the possible leak checked and either confirmed or denied and repaired if necessary. Otherwise you would likely need to undo the work (wasting both time and money) that had already been done by the time you found out about the leak that a competent inspector would have told you about before you even began working on the property.
Inspections are great before placing the bid on a house because they actually give buyers a bargaining chip. If the roof needs to be replaced, you are justified in offering a lower amount. If the electrical system needs to be updated, this is something that should be adjusted or amended in the final offer. These are also things that are easily identified by a qualified and competent property inspector. Any thing that can save time and money is great when investing in property and an inspection can do both.
Another great thing about a good property inspection is that it often sheds light on the amount of money that will be needed in order to get the house in good working order. Knowledge is very important in this line of work and can mean the difference between taking on a project (if the repair budget won't exceed the eventual value of the property) or walking away if the expenses would be too great.
More importantly however than any of the things mentioned above, a proper home inspection can inform you of potentially hazardous conditions within the home that the untrained eyes may not take notice of. Some of these things include toxic mold, which can be financially disastrous as well as hazardous to your health; foundation issues, and structural damage that is threatening the integrity of the property. An inspector should also notice the structural integrity of homes that could affect your home if they are weakened or fail all together. While these things seem so simple, it is often the simple things that lead to the greatest disasters.
Ask a friend, relative, or real estate professional to provide you with a referral for a reliable home inspector. Or, you can check out the American Society of Home Inspectors website to obtain a referral.