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“Buyers should try to think like a home inspector when they are at an open house,” Mr. Koepf says. “I always start looking at a place by looking all the way around the house and all the way around every room before I start in with tunnel vision and focus on individual things. Buyers should take in the big picture first.”

Potential buyers with young children also should check for lead-paint problems.

“If the home was built after 1978, then buyers are OK, but if they are looking at an older home, they need to have the paint checked out,” Mr. Koepf says.

On the outside, Mrs. Buckman suggests that potential buyers walk around the property to see the size of the yard and then check on whether the gutters are secure. Mr. Koepf recommends checking the grading to be sure the soil slopes away from the house.

“Buyers can glance at the roof shingles to see if they look secure or shabby, and they can look at where the electricity and cable comes into the house to see if it looks worn or not,” Mr. Koepf says.

Mrs. Riegert Woodruff suggests that buyers look at the yard to see if it has too much moisture, which could indicate a drainage problem.

“The really important things that buyers should be careful to check on are the age of the main systems such as the heating and air conditioning, the roof, the plumbing and the electrical wiring,” Mrs. Buckman says. “Those are things that can be costly to repair, so buyers should ask about them and have them checked by a home inspector.”

Potential buyers also can look for cosmetic issues inside the house.

“One of the first things stagers will do is to empty or at least clean up the closets, and so buyers are sometimes caught up by the neatness or prettiness of the closets instead of how many there are or how large they are,” Mrs. Riegert Woodruff says.

“I actually bought a five-bedroom home not that long ago that doesn’t have a linen closet on the bedroom level. I hadn’t even noticed how tiny the hall closet is,” she says. “People need to think about their possessions and how they will store them. For instance, if you have a baby, you need to notice whether there is a first-floor closet big enough to hold the stroller.”

Mrs. Buckman says buyers should always open blinds and curtains to check on the view, because if they are looking right at the neighbors, that is a problem that cannot be fixed.

As an experienced home inspector, Mr. Koepf warns homebuyers against getting overzealous in their own inspection.

“People need to keep their safety in mind and avoid crawling into an attic space or messing around with the fuse box,” Mr. Koepf says. “And speaking from experience, everyone should be careful in a house with kids and pets of the hazard of tripping over toys.”