Angie's List: Avoiding home buying heartbreak

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Homeowner Brenda Payne says contractors have done tens of thousands of dollars of repair work for problems that surfaced after she closed on her home including electrical, plumbing and venting code violations.

Payne said her problems stemmed from using a real estate agent who represented both the buyer and seller. Experts say you should avoid doing that. That same agent also arranged and paid for inspections – another big no-no.

To protect yourself, independently evaluate everyone involved in the home buying process before you start looking at houses. That means researching and checking the qualifications of realtors, mortgage lenders and home inspectors. 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," said Angie's List 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.  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’s List says you should always get pre-approved for a loan before you start your home search. But 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, such as lower debt-to-income ratios, and pay more in closing costs.

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