Avoiding home buying heartache

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

“It’s been an emotional roller coaster,” said homeowner Brenda Payne. “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.”

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,” Contractor Edward Christensen said. “Then we said, well we need to check other walls, and then when we did it just slowly kept growing.”

Payne says her problems stemmed from using a real estate agent who represented both the buyer and seller. This is 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 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.

“Over the years, the one thing I have learned is people tend to wait until the last minute to make a decision about finding a home inspector, for example,” said Angie’s List founder Angie Hicks. “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.”

“Don’t overlook anything if something doesn’t look right to you question it,” Payne added.

Angie’s List says that you should always get pre–approved for a loan before you start your home search. That way, you won’t run into any surprises. Keep in mind new rules that took effect in January could make it more difficult for you to get pre–qualified. Though aimed at protecting consumers, increased regulations mean would–be buyers need to meet more stringent financing terms, including lower debt–to–income ratios.