Once I meet with Buyer clients for the first time, we discuss what their future home looks like, i.e. number of bedrooms/bathrooms, style of home, specific wants or needs, etc. Once I have a good idea of what they are looking for, I search for homes that meet that criteria and send that information to my clients via email. My clients then choose the houses they want to see and we start viewing properties. At this point, I find my clients and I are now looking for two different things. One aspect of my job (finding suitable homes) is done. The homes we view have met their criteria. At this point the Buyer tends to look at the homes and ask themselves "do I like the finishings" "Does the layout suit our lifestyle" "Is it in a nice location" and most importantly "Can I see myself living in this home".
Me, on the other hand, I'm looking at the home more from an investment standpoint. (at the end of the day, I am hired to assist my clients make one of the largest investments of their lives). I'm looking at things like the windows and for any staining or swelling around them, which would indicate a leak. I look at potential structural issues, odd cracks in the walls, cracks in the foundation, how plumb the basement windows are to indicate foundation wall deflection, discoloration of basement baseboards to indicate water penetration, etc. As my clients are looking down at the brand new carpet, I'm right next to them staring up at the ceiling looking for water staining.
I am not a Home Inspector (and even they have their limitations), but I like to think that I do a great job at discovering noteworthy issues that can be uncovered in a 30 minute property showing. I have had numerous home inspections where the inspector takes the client through the property, explaining what they have found and the client say "oh yeah, Ryan showed us that". I believe it is a value added service that I can provide based on my experience. I have a strong knowledge base in home construction and the systems of the home that I think would be a disservice not to share with my clients!
So while you are doing your homework by making sure that the home fits your needs, rest assured that I'm right behind you ensuring that you are making a sound investment! Also, finding potential issues before writing an offer can help in negotiations and potentially losing a house that you fell in love with, but didn't notice the crumbling foundation!