This is advice that could save potentially save you thousands of dollars: Always get an inspection when buying a home. Never forget that and picture me telling you while stroking my long beard and wearing a monocle.
To preface, when entering into a contract to purchase property, there is a place where you are granted an "option period" in exchange for money. The length of the option period is usually 7-10 days for residential, but since everything is negotiable, this can vary. The amount of money typically varies based on price of the property, but with negotiation can also be higher if there is competition for a piece of property because of it's level of desirability and interest.
The option period basically gives a buyer to terminate the contract and get their earnest money back for whatever reason they choose. The buyer doesn't really even HAVE to give a reason. They can just simply say "I changed my mind." BUT, if the buyer exercises their right to terminate, they lose the option money. If they follow through with the contract they can get it reimbursed at closing.
OK, I had a point to telling you that. During the option period is when you perform an inspection of the property. Price of inspection varies on the size of the house, but trust me, it's worth it to be aware of what you potentially could be buying. Yeah, that cute house could look perfect, but upon further examination through an inspection you could find such things such as ripped ductwork, leaking toilet, busted HVAC system, termite damage, etc.
After the inspection you will be given a report and hopefully, a walkthrough of the property with the inspector to point out the biggest concerns. You and I (because I'm your agent) will then enter into a second negotiation period (the first being initial price and terms) to hash out how repairs will be done if necessary. It's important to point out that there will ALWAYS be things noted on inspection reports. Inspectors must note everything to cover their butts. As a buyer, don't get frightened. It is not unusual to find several things even on NEW homes.
Most new homes come with a "bumper to bumper" warranty (typically 1 year) that includes everything. Most buyer's believe that most issues will be uncovered within that year and will get it fixed. However, it may take longer than 1 year for some issues to get to the point of being harmful. So, on a new home, do an inspection by an inspector YOU hire and hand the report to the builder prior to closing and say "fix it all."
Finally, as a buyer it's probably not sensible to ask for every little thing on the report to be fixed. A buyer purchasing resale needs to take into account that there WILL be normal wear and tear. If you want some horrible carpet replaced that's fine, but if you get nit-picky, seller's can choose to kill a deal if they feel you are being unreasonable.
If you have any questions on why my brain is so large and efficient or on home inspections, contact me through the info on the sidebar. I'd love to help!