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Buying a 'Bad' Home: What to Know in Case You Buy a House of Horrors

Juneau recalled a case where he was commissioned to inspect a brand-new home in the Bellingham, Wash., area. He discovered significant structural issues with the home. Despite noting that in the inspection report -- and advising his clients against buying -- his clients went ahead and purchased the property. ("Where else can you find these views?" Juneau recalled his clients saying.) A year later, his clients contacted him, complaining that their home had settled by three inches -- a problem Juneau had predicted in his initial inspection report.

And though some homebuyers just won't listen, Braun told AOL Real Estate that the most important tip for homebuyers is still to hire a trained, licensed and well-reviewed home inspector. This is absolutely necessary, Braun said, as the average homebuyer is not trained to look at homes the way a certified inspector is. Ensure that your home inspector is licensed if your state requires it. (Unfortunately, only about half of states require any kind of certification or licensing for home inspectors.) Also, make sure the inspector is affiliated with a professional inspection organization, such as the National Association of Home Inspectors, American Society of Home Inspectors or National Institute of Building Inspectors.

Juneau adds that homebuyers should interview their inspector on the phone for at least 15 minutes before hiring them. "Ask for his resume, ask for guarantees," said Juneau.

Most importantly, insist on attending the inspection.

"It will take them much longer to inspect the house -- they'll have to stop and answer your questions -- but you absolutely need to be there. You'll get a wealth of knowledge and information about the home just being present during the inspection," Juneau said. "If the inspector isn't willing to let you attend their inspection, then that inspector isn't for you."

Be Careful Whom You Trust

Also beware of inspectors recommended by the Realtor trying to sell the home, Justin Treher warned. While the Treher family did hire an inspector to look at their home before purchasing it, it was an inspector whom they later found out their Realtor knew -- and "knew was awful," Treher said.
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