I make part of my living inspecting homes and as such have a vested interest in having more customers. But that's only part of what I am talking about here. Most people do have their homes inspected during the pre-purchase process. I am advocating for a lot more than that. Here are a few examples:
One lesson from the sub-prime loan fiasco is that loan officers, brokers and investors didn't ask tough questions about these loans. As the home buyer, you need to know what would happen if things do not go as expected. For example: what if, home values drop? family income drops? interest rates go up and...?
There are very few "free" things in life and one of the free things that maybe of very little value to you is the bank's appraisal of the property. What the bank wants to know (or at least what they ought to know) is if the property is worth at least as much a the loan value. They need to know that in order to be sure that they can get their loan repaid in case you default on the loan. Many banks didn't get accurate appraisals during the sub-prime loan fiasco and even if they did, they weren't really looking for the data you need.
Who else should you hire for a consultation?
And some of these investigations will not cost you more in the near term but could save you a lot of money. For example: if the furnace has not been inspected by a specialist in the last year, you should have it inspected before the next heating season anyway. You might as well do it now and find out in the process if it needs major repairs or replacement.
Can't afford all of these "extra" costs? Might that indicate that you can't afford to buy a house? Remember, properties require an average of about 1-2% of their value in annual maintenance.