Ask a professional home inspector about the importance of home maintenance and they may tell you that most homeowners take better care of their automobiles than their homes.  That is the primary reason a trusted Realtor will advise their buyer to spend the money that is necessary to have the house they like best thoroughly examined by an independent third party.

However, before taking that step a wise buyer will often take a closer look when viewing properties, which can ultimately prevent a well-maintained property from slipping away.

An amateur eye can notice the following details which may help in determining a cared for property:

Extra furnace filters in the seller’s garage may be an indication that the owner plans in advance to change filters regularly, ultimately ensuring an efficiently working furnace.  Also, some sellers will have a book with service logs on maintenance dates.

Notice the smell – often damp, musty smells, or water stains in ceilings and floors may indicate a potential issue – particularly in basements.

Take note if you see an excessive amount of extension cords or electrical fuses lying around.

Roof shingles that are cupping at the corners may need to be replaced. If the roof appears to be sagging between the joists, the entire thing may have to be removed.

There should be access to all space, and nothing should be blocking the furnace or electrical panel.

If the seller keeps a maintenance log backed by files of receipts, warranties and instruction manuals, it's likely a safe bet that the house has been well cared for

Remember, when you find your new home, a home inspector can validate your investigative finds and potentially provide an additional negotiating opportunity !