For young families or those who enjoy being close to all the action of the city, a condo is a smart purchase. They are getting even smarter as condos see a steady increase in value with the rebounding market. According to Zillow's Third Quarter Real Estate Market Report, condos are gaining value even faster than traditional homes. Now may be the perfect time to buy that condo you've been eyeing, but have you considered a home inspection? It may not look like the typical house, but a condo needs to be thoroughly examined just the same. Here are some reasons why you will want to add an inspection to buyer's to do list, and what to expect from the process.

Greater understanding

Individual condo units are often much smaller than the average house, so it's easy to skip the home inspection process. After all, how much could go wrong in such a small space? As former American Society of Home Inspectors president Mike Casey noted, size doesn't really matter in this case.

"Buying a condo is an investment, and it's important to know the overall condition of your investment before you purchase," Casey said.

Your condo purchase may be the largest purchase you've made so far in life, so you'll want to do all you can to make sure it's up to par. A professional inspection will also acquaint buyers with the most detailed and perhaps unnoticed features of the property. Suggestions for extra maintenance or future repairs will be easier to glean from a professional inspector.

When you are viewing property on your own, you probably aren't thinking much about the health of appliances, structural integrity or possible mold and pest problems. Instead, you're preoccupied with how you'll furnish the space, how far it is from schools, grocery stores or what the neighbors are like. Having a certified home inspector take care of the technical details can bring those hidden questions to the forefront and allow you to include that information in a conversation on price. Typically, a condo inspection will ensure the adequate operation and condition of the heating and cooling system, electrical wiring, plumbing and ductwork. Any permanent appliances like the fridge, oven, stove and in-unit laundry may also be covered, but not always. If the inspector does cover these items, ask if they can check for any recalls as well.

What to expect

A professional inspector will be able to make specific recommendations regarding potential repair issues, or issues that may present themselves later on after you've purchased the condo. However, the inspection will not cover any communal areas of the building. That is, most anything outside of the individual dwelling is not taken into consideration in a condo inspection. That includes stairwells, exterior doors and flooring outside of the unit. The inspection likely won't include some safety features like sprinklers or fire alarms.

One key difference between condos and single-family homes is how repairs are handled. In the process of inspecting a typical house, certain issues found may be grounds for a reduction in price, or if the property is being sold as-is, will be the responsibility of the buyer. However, in the case of most condos, responsibility for repairs falls on the owner or condo association. Check your contract or lease to ensure that this is accurate.

All in all, a condo inspection brings a great deal of peace of mind, knowing that your new home is safe with everything in working order. Since condos are smaller than typical single-family homes, the fee may indeed be less than normal. The savings from a good inspection, however, are immeasurable.