7. Consider an inspection even if you're the seller. If you need to sell a house quickly — perhaps you're relocating for a job or have already purchased a new property — you may be able to save time by having the place inspected first. That way, you can find and fix any problems that might slow down the sale. "If a seller needs a smooth and fast transaction, they should do a home inspection before putting the property on the market," says Chris Ballard, owner of Century 21 Gold Medal Realty in Atlanta. "They'll know what issues they may have to address and be able to take care of them before they become an issue."

Home inspectors acknowledge that whether a house is new or old, there are certain potential trouble spots that can be nearly impossible to discern, such as water intrusion that has been plastered over, cracks in concrete slabs that are concealed by floor coverings, or damage to walls that is hidden behind a careful paint job. But they argue that flaws like these are rare. "What a good inspector is looking for, and what he builds his reputation on, is the things that will cost buyers $10,000, $20,000, $30,000 when they move in," says Mike Casey, an instructor at Inspection Training Associates in Manassas, Virginia. "If an inspector is skilled, he finds those things."

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