If you’re in the market for a new house, you may already know that purchasing from a standard seller isn’t your only option. Many homeowners fall behind on their mortgage payments and end up in a position where their only option is to sell the house for less than it is worth. Though this is often devastating for the fledgling homeowners, it presents a unique buying opportunity for you. A short sale in particular is a common type of transaction that allows a homeowner to avoid foreclosure and a buyer to get a great deal on a valuable home. If you’re considering a short sale, these tips will help you have the best experience possible.

Don’t Skip the Home Inspection!

A home inspection occurs before a home is sold in order to examine the condition of the home and identify any problems. While a home inspection doesn’t cover every single source of potential issues, it does allow for a visual evaluation of a property from top to bottom, including all main systems. The most important items include structural components, exterior features, the roof, plumbing, heating, cooling, and electrical systems, and insulation and ventilation.

You want to tag along for any short sale home inspection so that you can learn about any problems and gain a realistic understanding of what it might cost to fix everything. If termites, mold, or structural damage are common in your area, it is also a good idea to hire a specialized inspector to check for those more expensive problems. Once you have all of the facts, you can make an informed decision.

Pay Close Attention to Legal and Insurance Information

A short sale home works differently than a traditional sale, so you often do not receive all of the disclosures that you normally would. Check that any renovations to the home have been permitted and approved, confirm that nothing questionable has occurred with insurance, and triple check all public information on the home. You don’t want any unpleasant surprises after you’ve already signed on the dotted line.

Take Warning Signs Seriously

This doesn’t happen in all cases, but many homeowners who face short sale or foreclosure will stop caring for the home or even purposefully ruin it out of spite. If your warning bells are going off that a property might have significant- and costly- structural or safety issues, you need to address your instincts immediately, before it’s too late.