Get a Home Inspection!
When buying a home, one of the most important steps of the home buying process is getting an inspection on your potential new home. A home inspection can reveal defects that could cost you thousands after closing. There's nothing worse than moving into your new home only to discover you have major issues you didn't know about. Structural issues, mold, leaky roof, electrical problems and plumbing problems are just a few that could empty your bank account.
Use a Licensed Inspector!
Always hire a professional and licensed inspector for conducting your home inspection. Don't rely on relatives or friends to perform your inspection. If you don't know an inspector, DON'T USE THE YELLOW PAGES! Ask your REALTOR for a list of 3 or more inspectors. Do your homework - call them all and ask for references and names of their latest clients. DO NOT RELY on just one reference!
Be an informed and educated buyer. Don't rely on inspection advice from your real estate agent. Real estate agents are not inspectors! A good agent will point out potential defects in a home while they are showing it to you, but they still won't spot everything. If your agent only talks about how beautiful and great the home is - FIND A NEW AGENT! While viewing the home, check the crawlspace for standing water and a necessary vapor barrier. Look for cracks around a foundation. Look for roof issues. Ask your real estate agent for a copy of the septic permit. If a permit isn't available (sometimes records are lost on older homes) have the septic system inspected and ask the seller to pump the septic tank before closing. When you see certain issues, that should be a clue to look for others. Cheap fixes to problems usually lead to more problems for you the potential new homeowner.
Choosing your REALTOR
Last but certainly not least, choose your real estate agent wisely. There is a difference between a REALTOR and a regular real estate agent. REALTORS are members of the National Association of REALTORS and are held to higher ethical standards. The NAR has a code of ethics and REALTORS can be reported for violating that code. However, if you are using an agent that isn't a REALTOR, be careful! Your only recourse if you have problems will be an attorney or the state real estate commission. And unfortunately, ethics violations are not enforced by the state or any attorney. If your agent tells you, "This is a great home, you don't need an inspection" or "there aren't any problems, this house is perfect for you" - DUMP THAT AGENT! Always ask for an inspection and always ask for septic information where applicable. The Tennessee Assocation of REALTORS legal contract has a form titled "Get a Home Inspection". Make certain you receive a copy of that form and most definitely have that inspection.