Older homes, and especially those on a hillside, may experience foundation issues. If the seller is AWARE of foundation problems, they must disclose this to you. However, don't count on them being aware of problems, unless they are severe. And as many have said below, have your agent ask the seller's agent for disclosures.
That being said, if you suspect foundation problems you want to have that looked at by the appropriate professional. Many home inspection companies do not employ licensed contractors to perform the inspections. So paying for a home inspection may not get you what you want. Consider calling out a licensed contractor, preferably one that does foundation inspections and retrofits. Many licensed contractors will come out and look at a suspect foundation and give you a bid for repairs at no cost.
Even if you have to pay $100 to $200 for a contractor's inspection and estimate, I don't see it as a gamble. I see it as insurance that you are buying a sound home (or one that can be made sound). Like Don pointed out below - you can often get a pretty deep discount on a home with foundation issues. You just want to know in advance the severity and cost of repairs. If the numbers work, this might be a great way to get a great home at a discounted price. Dare to Dream.
Shel-lee Davis, QSCÂ®
Certified Distressed Property Expert â€“ CDPEÂ®
Short Sale & Foreclosure Resource â€“ SFRÂ®
Certified HAFA Specialist â€“ CHSÂ®
Your Real Estate Consultant for Life
RE/MAX Palos Verdes Realty