The best place to start is to take a tour of the home with an experienced REALTOR® who will be able assess the more superficial aspects of the home and will often be able to identify tell-tale signs of potential problems if they exist. If you make an offer on the home and it is accepted by the seller, typically it will be subject to the condition of a thorough inspection by a professional home inspector.
Additionally, the sellers will complete a disclosure form which outlines everything known about the property. The home owner must disclose the presence of environmental hazards, walls or fences shared with adjoining landowners, any encroachment of easements, room additions or repairs made without the necessary permits or not in compliance with building codes, zoning violations, citations against the property and lawsuits against the seller affecting the property. Further, if you buying a condo you will be able to purchase a document that describes covenants, codes, other deed restrictions, as well as whether the homeowners association has any authority over the subject property and ownership of common areas with others.
A home inspector will look for any defects or malfunctions existing in the home’s major systems, as well as any problems with the interior and exterior walls, ceilings, roof, insulation, windows, fences, driveway, sidewalks, floors, doors, foundation, as well as the electrical and plumbing systems. A home inspector will also look for settling, sliding or soil problems, flooding or drainage problems.
Be sure to ask questions about anything that remains unclear or does not seem to be properly addressed by the forms provided to you. I will be able to guide you and provide expert counsel through all these steps. Keep reading for more common buyer questions.