By Jim Donovan
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Buying a home can be an exciting adventure, but purchasing the wrong house could become a big headache, an expensive one too.
In this week’s Angie’s List report, Jim Donovan has some things you should know before you do any house hunting.
“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,” said homeowner Brenda Payne.
Payne learned about various problems around her home right after she purchased it. Those problems ended up costing her thousands of dollars.
“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,” said contractor, Edward Christensen.
Payne says her biggest mistake was using a real estate agent who represented her and as well as the seller, which experts say you should avoid.
So before you buy a home, independently evaluate everything involved. Research realtors and mortgage lenders and identify your own home inspector.
“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,” said Angie’s List founder, Angie Hicks.
More from Angie:
Finances: Secure pre-approval:
Get pre-approved for a loan before you start your home search – that way you won’t run into any surprises, particularly in light of increased government regulation in recent years to tighten runaway lending practices, including the 2010 Dodd-Frank law, which takes effect in January. Though aimed at protecting consumers, increased regulations mean would-be buyers need to meet more stringent financing terms, such as lower debt-to-income ratios, and pay more in closing costs.
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.