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Avoiding a lemon while buying a home

Avoiding a lemon while buying a home



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SALT LAKE CITY -- One of the most severe problems a home buyer could run into is an unexpected lien that could cost them tens of thousands of dollars.

Find a Home in Utah Principle Broker Craig Bruner says, "I've been in business for 19 years, and I haven't had a whole lot of problems [with liens] except in these last two years."

A good title insurance company can find liens other people miss, but Bruner says many buyers don't properly review a title insurance policy before they sign on.

"Unfortunately, title insurance is not perfect because there are, heck, there are title insurance companies that have gone out of business," he says.

Bruner also says buyers should worry about hazardous waste issues with the home, and one of the worst materials to bring down a home's value is methamphetamine. However, many buyers may think it's just a problem if the drug is cooked in the home, even though a dangerous amount of residue could be left by someone who just smoked there.

Bruner says if a buyer wants to purchase a home where someone smoked meth, that buyer could still have issues even if the amount of residue is small enough to meet legal standards and the buyer is willing to clean the mess.

"That doesn't mean that insurance companies will let you do that and that doesn't mean lenders will let you do that," Bruner says.

If you find a home you want to buy, try not to get too wrapped up in the potential you see in it. Bruner says some people purchase property thinking they can make additions or upgrades to it. But zoning laws may stop those plans in their tracks.

"Sometimes, you'll need to get it surveyed to make sure that everything's legal and that you can do what you're planning on doing," Bruner says.

He also says homebuyers should speak with the insurance company issuing the current policy on the home to see if it will be insurable. Sometimes, homes become uninsurable after years of problems.

E-mail: pnelson@ksl.com

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Paul Nelson

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