Angie's List: Home-Buying Heartache

By Lauren Maloney

Published 02/14 2014 03:45PM

Updated 02/17 2014 01:18PM

Buying a home is an exciting adventure, but it can quickly turn to heartache.

Before you fall in love with a home, line up a team of reputable professionals that will work for you.

"It's been an emotional roller coaster. I've had days of crying and then days of today they put up a rock fireplace and it was elation you know you start to see it come back together. Ok we're going to get there," Homeowner Brenda Payne said.

Payne says contractors have done tens of thousands of dollars of repair work for problems that surfaced after she closed on her home.

"We found electrical code problems, plumbing code problems not vented right, not angled right, wires that were in the walls that were just black taped and not wired right and stuff like that. Then we said well we need to check other walls and then when we did it just slowly kept growing," Contractor Edward Christensen said.

Payne says her problems stemmed from using a real estate agent who represented both the buyer and seller - something experts say you should avoid.

That same agent also arranged and paid for inspections - another big no-no.

So how can you protect yourself?

Independently evaluate everyone involved before you start looking at houses.

That means researching and checking qualifications.

Don't go with a lender or home inspector just because your real estate agent recommends them.

"Over the years, the one thing I have learned is people tend to wait until the last minute to make a decision, finding a home inspector, for example. You want to do that at the beginning of your home search - before you're under the time crunch of having to get the home inspection done in a certain number of days. You know you're going to need a home inspector. Find out who you want to work with before you're under the gun," Angie Hicks said.

"Don't overlook anything if something doesn't look right to you question it. Don't think you don't have a right," Payne said.

Angie's List says you should always get pre-approved for a loan before you start your home search - that way you won't run into any surprises.

But keep in mind new rules that took effect in January could make it more difficult for you to get pre-qualified.

Angie’s List Tips: Hiring Professionals

·         Real estate agents: All states require licensure for real estate agents and most have sites that provide information on any disciplinary action taken against those licensed agents. Look for a professional who belongs to the National Association of Realtors, which requires members to follow a code of ethics. Avoid using an agent who represents both the buyer and the seller.

·         Mortgage lenders: Look for a responsive lender that keeps the terms of the agreement consistent, giving fair warning, if those should change. Look for a lender who reaches out early and often to secure paperwork in a timely fashion, experts say.

·         Home inspectors: Look for inspectors who go beyond state regulatory requirements, do continued education and belong to organizations like the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). Regulations vary by state and not all require licensure for home inspectors.

So how can you protect yourself? Independently evaluate everyone involved in the home buying process before you start looking at houses. Don’t go with a lender or home inspector just because your real estate agent recommends them.


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