Before making any sort of purchase, you want to make sure that what you’re buying is in good condition. And if not, what the return policy might be. For anything that’s used or returned, it’s often a ‘caveat emptor’ situation so great care is needed to make sure what you’re buying will operate as promisedinspections find needed repairs and if not, in what circumstances you can return your purchase.

But with real estate, there is no way to return a property to the seller other than to sell it. Yes, if there is fraud involved or the seller knowingly hid something major with the property, you may have legal recourse but that can be an expensive, lengthy affair. That’s why you need to have a thorough property inspection.

The property inspector will literally crawl the basement to the attic looking for defective items or issues that need to be addressed. Some things are more important than others while still others can stop a deal dead in its tracks. Once the report has been completed, you have the opportunity to review the items noted then continue with the purchase, adjust your offer or walk from the transaction.

Some issues you can handle on your own. A leaky faucet or a noisy dishwasher won’t hold up your $250,000 purchase. But there are things that you can’t ignore and if you do you can bet that your lender won’t. Major problems are those associated with a faulty foundation, cracks appearing along door jambs and walls, water spots on the ceiling and signs of water damage. Heating and air conditioning systems need to be in good working order and if they need to be replaced it can run a few thousand dollars.

Structural issues must be addressed and remediated. A leaky faucet you can live with. A leaky roof, you can’t.