A home inspection can help avoid a money pit

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Many homebuyers have a home inspector check the property to ensure that there is no major structural damage to the house, but there are ways to squeeze even more value from your inspection. I’m Rose Raymond with your Bankrate.com personal finance minute.

First, choose the right home inspector. Ask appraisers, attorneys and lenders for recommendations, and be sure to ask inspectors for credentials and check with the Better Business Bureau.

Next, prepare for the inspection. When you visited the house, did you notice anything strange, such as a dark spot in the basement or signs of poor insulation? Be sure to make a list of questions to ask the inspector.

Then, accompany the inspector when he or she is at work and be sure to take notes. The inspector should be able to tell you the life expectancy of individual appliances and notify you of general issues relating to the house’s maintenance and upkeep.

Finally, if you are purchasing a vacant home, be sure to tread carefully. Ask the inspector about mold and water damage. You may need to have additional inspections to make sure the house has not been neglected.

For more on home maintenance, check out Bankrate.com’s 2011 Housing Trends guide. I’m Rose Raymond.