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How to Avoid Buying a Lemon

April 22, 2013


So-called “lemons” are consumer goods that fail quality and performance standards soon after purchased. Lemon laws (or warranties) protect consumers who buy defective products by offering a replacement or refund – but real estate is a different matter. In a market with many foreclosed, short-sale and unoccupied properties, buyers risk choosing a “lemon” in their search for the perfect home.

From mold to meth lab contamination, termites to title defects, and lead-based paint to latent sinkholes, defects and damage can be hard to identify prior to purchase. But shoppers who do their homework and enlist the right resources can prevent falling into a money pit and suffering buyer’s remorse, the experts say.

The good news is that stricter seller disclosure rules, home inspection regulations and government disclosures for hazardous properties provide more protection to buyers today than in the past, says Sam DeBord, managing broker with Coldwell Banker Danforth in Seattle.

The bad news is that, with more distressed and short sale properties on the market today, home hunters face a greater risk of claiming a lemon.

“Any investment has inherent risk. Homebuyers should exercise as much research and caution as possible when purchasing a home so they feel comfortable at the close of their transaction,” DeBord says.

Click to find how steps you can take to avoid buying a lemon.

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