Occasionally I work with first time home buyers looking for a real deal. This usually means finding a lower priced fixer upper, a home that needs extensive work. I worry most times weather or not the buyers truly know what they may be getting into.
The problem with homes that need work is that you can never be fully sure what is wrong with the home. In these instances it pays dividends to have a really good home inspector and to be a very good detective. For instance, I was recently in a home where the wood floor boards were worn and cupped. The wear was from heavy use, the cupping indicates moisture. We looked under the home in the crawl space, but it was bone dry. Days later we looked under the home after a heavy rain and found 4 inches of water! The cupped floor boards were trying to tell us something!
In another story, buyers were looking at a home that needed work and thought they were getting a good deal, even with the known issues with the home. That was until the termite inspector found the sill plate virtually eaten away by termites. This is the base board over the foundation that the home sits on. It pays to have many eyes look at a home that needs work.
If you are in the market for a fixer upper, make sure you find an agent to help you that has great resources such as inspectors, engineers, termite inspectors, and more to make sure you are getting what you think you are. It really might be a deal, but if it isn't we need to know up front.