This is a loaded question, I would say first I look for value, are you paying the right price, is it in the right location, are the properties in this neighborhood been properly maintained, is the value of the home going to go up. Once you have gone beyond this point, the next major areas to check is: Structural, this could be a major expense if the house has any structural problems, paying an structural engineering could save you a lot of headaches. Have the house inspected by a certified home inspector, inspect for the following major areas: plumbing electrical, HVAC, appliances, roofing, siding, if the house is built prior to 1978 check for LEAD. It is expensive to do Lead abatement, lead cannot be completely removed from your house. Now a days, we also check for insurance claims history, be sure to get a report from your insurance company, the house may have too many claims, your homeowners insurance policy maybe very expensive. Get a Title search done and get Title Insurance is worth it.
I'm sure I can think of other things, but this will get you started. Let me know if you have any questions.
Telmo Bermeo is an Associate Broker with America's Network Realty Group, Inc. located in Dunwoody GA.