If you find a house that seems like it has possibilities, do your own initial objective overview, inside and out, before making an offer. Your intention now is to be alert for obvious deficiencies. Assuming you're not looking for a fixer-upper, too many of these may be a reason to eliminate this house from further consideration, or have me perform a further evaluation with a full home inspection.
Note: This is not meant to replace a professional home inspection. My inspection is much more thorough and comprehensive than this short list. Once you make an offer on a house, you'll want me to perform a full and objective home inspection. Be careful, it is difficult to stay on track and be objective during this exciting and emotional time.
Your initial walkthrough:
Foundation: Look at the base of the walls and the ceilings in each room. Are there obvious cracks or apparent shifts in the foundation? Do the same around the outside. Are there any trees encroaching on the foundation?
Lot: Does the drainage appear to be away from the house? Are there any obvious soggy areas or depressions close to the home?
Roof: What is the overall condition? When was it last replaced (ask the seller if unable to determine)? Are there any trees encroaching on it?
Exterior: Does the house look like it will need repairs or repainting soon (paint peeling, raw or exposed wood)? Are gutters and downspouts in a good condtion? Are there loose boards or exposed wires. Do the decks, stairs and railings appear solid without obvious signs of neglect or rot? Is there wood to earth contact?
Attic(if accessible): How does the interior of the roof structure look? Are there any signs of leaks?
Interior: Check ceilings, walls and around windows in each room for evidence of leakage. Look for signs of settlement (cracking, out of square doors).
Basement: Is there dampness, signs of water intrusion? How dow the exposed foundation walls look? (If there's a crawlspace instead of a basement, you might want to leave this for me.)
Electrical: Do the switches work? Are there any obvious malfunctions? Are the outlets been grounded, are there any dark spots on them? Iif an older house, is the panel updated and expandable for additional appliances or a potential remodel?
Plumbing: Any unusual noises or malfunctions? Good flow, drainage at the showers, tubs and sinks? Has the sewer line been scoped recently, check with the seller (scoping a sewer line is not part of a normal home inspection).
Appliances: If these are included, what is the age and condition of the stove, dishwasher or refrigerator?
Heating/cooling system: Does it seem to do the job? How old is the furnace and A/C unit?
Odor: Is there an odor in the house? Can you detect what it might be and whether it could be fixed? Beware of musty odors which could signal a water intrusion issue.