There are many important decisions to make when selling or buying a home, but few are as crucial as the home inspection process. You can protect your finances and create a less stressful, more rewarding real estate experience when you make an informed choice.

It is important to understand what home inspections typically cover. A home inspection has implications for pricing considerations and negotiations. As a seller, you can use an inspection to identify problems that can be repaired before you list your home. As a buyer, you can include needed repairs to amend the purchase agreement.

Here are key guidelines to help along the way:

1. A home inspection is a visual assessment and report based on what is observed on a certain day. As such, a home inspector cannot see or find everything. For example, they may not be able to inspect certain areas concealed by snow.

2. Understand the parameters of the home inspection.

3. There is no such thing as a perfect house. Don’t be concerned if the inspection reveals some problems. Use this information as part of your negotiations, or as a seller, have an advance inspection and take care of necessary repairs before you list the home.

4. As a buyer, you are paying for an objective opinion on the home. A good agent uses good home inspectors. It is important to know that your report is as comprehensive as possible.

5. In competitive markets, buyers often feel pressured to waive the home inspection as a condition of purchase. As a result, costly repairs that have not been budgeted for can arise after the sale is complete. It is always best to get a home inspection and an agent can help navigate the process and answer your questions.