When you're buying a home, you'll need to hire a home inspector. Here are some tips.

First off, it's often smart to not use one referred by a traditional agent, as the agent is aligned with the seller of the house. If you're using a buyer broker, it's fine to go with a referral from him. But, also get references from the inspector. (If he's reluctant to provide them, say sayonara.)

Check out whomever you plan to use with the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) (gesundheit!)or the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors (NACHI) to make sure he's got sufficient training and experience. Find out what will be covered in the inspection -- in detail.

Make sure that you can accompany him on the inspection, and do accompany him, observing what he does. In addition, you want him to carry "errors and omissions" insurance, which will cover you in the event that he goofs and misses something costly.

Today, often for just a few dollars, you can purchase or ask the seller to provide a "home warranty" -- insurance that covers unforeseen repairs for the first year or so after you buy the house. Most of these policies are contingent on a home inspection being performed by an inspector the insurance company trusts, but they offer great peace of mind. Many real estate agents and sellers are offering these policies as part of the sale to reduce liability for missed problems and to entice buyers. If they don't mention this, ask about it.

You can learn more about home buying in our Home Center -- we've even got some deals on mortgage rates for you there.

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