Buying a home is an exciting adventure, but it can quickly turn to heartache.
Our partners at Angie's List warn, before you fall in love with a home, line up a team of reputable professionals that will work for you.
"It's been an emotional roller coaster," says 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," says contractor Edward Christensen. "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 - something experts say you should avoid.
So how can you 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.
"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," says Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List. "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."
"Don't overlook anything if something doesn't look right to you question it," said Payne. "Don't think you don't have a right."
Angie's List says you should always get pre-approved for a loan before you start your home search – that way you won't run into any surprises.
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.