In my career as a Realtor, I have attended quite a few home inspections, and witnessed quite a range of involvement on the part of the buyer, the buyer’s agent, and the inspector.
Several years ago I attended the inspection for a listing of mine in Portage Park, Chicago. During the entire time of the inspection, the buyer sat at the kitchen table drinking coffee and reading the newspaper, while the inspector went through his customary routine, speaking to no one unless spoken to, and then only offering short answers like “yes” or “no.” Suffice to say, I had nothing whatsoever to do with recommending this particular “professional.”
Some inspectors want to point out every little possible thing to the buyers, in the spirit of educating the soon-to-be home owner. Assuming that the inspector is a skilled professional and knows his or her stuff, buyers (especialy 1st time buyers) should seize the opportunity to learn from the inspector while going through the home. This is far more productive than reading about it in the report after the fact, and will help the buyer make more sense of all the details in the report.
So whether it is your first purchase or your 10th, take the time to be present at the entire inspection, and ask questions to seek clarification or just to learn something new. Learn as much as possible about the property you are purchasing, whether you will live there or not. After all, you are paying for a professional service that could have a very significant impact on the final sale price and terms of your purchase. And five years after the fact, when an issue arises that involves words like “maintenance,” “repair” or “replace,” the report you received from the inspector will make more sense and will be a more useful resouce when something needs to be fixed.