Buying a property is the biggest financial decision a person ever makes and it's worthwhile educating yourself on the process ahead.
Understanding what aspects of a purchase are your responsibilities and when to bring in additional professionals to assist with your purchase.
Both patent and latent defects can have a material effect on the use and market value of a property but the responsibility lies with different subjects to the contract.
The patent defect is one that is readily visible or obvious through reasonable inspection. "Caveat emptor" or buyer beware is the standard for these defects. For example a broken handrail is obvious and the seller would have no responsibility to fix this for the buyer. Other examples may be less obvious to a buyer but readily identifiable to the purchaser's Realtor. An owner may have added an addition on or made living space out of an attic area. A seasoned professional would recognize that the addition doesn't meet building code or that there is something peculiar about the property. From here the buyer's agent can request the plans and building inspection file from the building department (or would have likely included that as a condition for the seller to provide in the offer) to review. Sending in a licensed building inspector will also bring to light more patent defects.
Latent defects are a completely different story. These cannot be discovered with reasonable inspection and is the responsibility of the seller to disclose. To start with the seller will provide a property condition statement for the property and in that document is a section for latent defects. If he hasn't disclosed any there are still some prudent steps to take.
Again a local building inspector can be of assistance. In a smaller community like Whistler or Pemberton there is the benefit of local knowledge by using professionals who reside in the area.
Visit the area property at different times of the day as well as different days of the week. Truck traffic for example may not be noticeable if you viewed after work in the evening and on weekends however midday there is a high volume of truck traffic. There could be a leak in the ceiling and the interior drywall has all been repaired but not the actual leak in the roof. When rainy season hits the problem is very apparent. There's not much point in a seller not disclosing a defect if the purchaser's will hear about it from the surrounding neighbours.
I can't stress enough the benefit of using a local Realtor that is a seasoned professional. While the trend for some agents is to sell "White Rock to Whistler." Find a full time professional that lives right where you want to buy or sell.