Getting a home inspection should be one of your first steps in the process of selling your house. It's also recommended to get an inspection on any property you're looking to buy.  A professional inspection can reveal structural issues that you might be unaware of, as well as allow you to more accurately assess a home's value. If you're unfamiliar with the home inspection process, here are some basic tips to make things easier for everyone involved, along with some common misconceptions.

Always inspect a new home

Just because a property is brand new doesn't mean it will be 100 percent free of flaws. Bankrate cites a tale from an Ohio inspector as evidence of this point. Jim Troth was inspecting a new home that had met all local safety codes, but found a glaring mistake on a support beam that could've seriously impacted the house's stability if it had gone unnoticed. While building codes indicate basic compliance with local ordinance, they don't always capture the full picture, making a qualified home inspector a wise investment.

Picking the right professional

Choosing the right home inspector is also crucial to getting the most detailed report on a home's quality. Trulia suggests asking your real estate agent for multiple recommendations, and meeting with each one individually, if possible, before committing. Picking an experienced professional is made easier by ensuring they are certified by the American Society of Home Inspectors. Naturally, you'll want to find the inspector who is willing to work for the best price, but this isn't always advisable, according to Bankrate. Cheaper inspectors may not be licensed to perform home inspections, or may not be covered by insurance.

Be present and ask questions

Once you've found the right inspector, your work isn't completely done yet. Real estate agency Century 21 advises homeowners or home buyers to accompany the inspector while they work. Most should encourage you to do so anyway. It's also a good idea to ask questions throughout the process, so do some preparation beforehand if there's anything you're uncertain of or want to know more about. A few specific issues that inspections commonly look for include lead, pest inspection, a thorough mold inspection, electrical problems, drainage issues, window seals and several more.

Most home inspectors can identify a wide range of issues. But they may refer you to a specialist for a particularly tricky one, in which case you will want to take their word for it. If it involves something that will require serious repairs, it's not much to be worried about. Remember, it's much better to catch these now rather than after buyers have started showing interest.

Negotiating repairs

If you ordered a home inspection on a house you'd like to buy, but found that some fixing was in order, there is a right and wrong way to handle the process. The wrong way would be to make your feelings known to the seller or agent. As Zillow points out, you should "keep your cards close to your chest." Mentioning that you might want to remodel a rundown bathroom, for example, may make the seller reluctant to offer a credit towards those repairs. Any issues you find in the course of a home inspection can be used as a bargaining chip of sorts. This is just another reason why a good property inspection is an essential cost.

For some, a home inspection on a property they are buying or selling is little more than an afterthought. With these tips in mind, however, you will be armed with the best knowledge going into any price or repair negotiations. If you're in the market, start researching certified home inspectors now to save time down the road. Most importantly, take control of the entire process. Being fully involved from start to finish may require a substantial time commitment, but it's one that will save even more time, as well as money, down the road.