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Home Buyer Horror Stories: We Look at What Can Go Wrong If You Don't Do It Right

Posted by Sara MacLennan on Thursday, February 27th, 2014 at 10:18am.

Buying a home is exciting, especially if it's your first. However, there are a number of ways that your home-buying experience can turn sour if you're not diligent. Failing to do the proper prep work can lead to expensive surprises cropping up later. Most Canadians know that buying a home is sometimes a risky endeavour; however, that doesn’t stop the horror stories from happening. Here are a few tales of Canadian consumers' home ownership dreams turning into nightmares, so you can avoid repeating their mistakes.

False Advertising Misleads Drayton Valley Couple

In May of 2013, the CBC reported that a couple in Drayton Valley, Alberta, purchased a house through the brokerage that had listed the home. It turned out to be decades older than it was advertised to be. The couple was buying their first home, a $298,000 house on a five-acre lot near Tomahawk. The Eves hired an independent inspector, who found problems with the windows, septic system, and roof. After the sellers repaired the roof, the Eves decided to buy. Less than one week after moving in, they found insects in the walls. A rainstorm caused the kitchen ceiling to cave in, which exposed mould and rotten materials in the walls and ceiling. The engineer overseeing the repairs stated that the home was in violation of the Alberta Building Code, and did not meet construction standards for the time the home was supposedly built.

The brokerage that listed the home called it a four-bedroom renovated house built in 1978. When it was last sold in 2001, though, it was listed as a 1960-built property. Scotiabank had foreclosed on the couple's house in 2012 and listed it as built in 1940. An additional building inspection stated the home to be a 1930 construction. All of this information would've been shared with the couple if they had their own agent. In Edmonton the age of the home advertisde on MLS® is derrived from the tax assessment - a home built in the '30's may have an "effective age" in the '70's if it's substantially renovated and assessed as such by the city. I'm not sure how this would work in Drayton Valley, but there were clearly discrepancies in the previous listings.

The couple says their biggest mistake was not finding their own agent and inspector.

Gas Leak and Mould Force Windsor Family to Live in Trailer

A couple in Windsor, Ontario, bought their first home after searching and saving for two years. They moved into the home with their three children, after a private home inspector told them the house was in great condition. Mere weeks after moving into the home, however, they found mould in the basement. They also discovered a leaky ceiling in the basement bathroom, drain issues in the main floor bathtub, doors that wouldn't shut, drywall seams that began to give way, sections of the basement floor that lifted up, and mould throughout the home. The family contracted chronic flu-like symptoms. Six months after moving in, the fire department visited their home twice to investigate natural gas issues. The following month, they abandoned the property to live in a trailer near a relative's home. Restoration specialists investigated and found a litany of other issues, estimating the cost of repair at $70,000.

The family's ordeal was the direct inspiration for the HGTV home inspection programs Disaster DIY and Leave It to Brian. Their nightmare began because the home inspector either failed to notice these problems or deliberately covered them up. Currently, Ontario does not regulate home inspectors. There are no mandatory minimum qualifications to become one. In Alberta, a home inspector is required by law to have a provincial home inspector license and to renew it every two years. Always ask to see your home inspector's license before you proceed with any inspection.

Buying a home is a big step forward in life, especially if it's your first home. However, it's vital to take the proper precautions to ensure that your dream house isn't hiding some ugly issues. Learn from these families, and only deal with a reputable and well-recommended home inspector. It's also important to keep in mind, that the seller's lawyer and realtor are not working for you. Always consult your own independent realtor and lawyer before purchasing a home. By practicing caution, you can make buying a home a joyful experience. For more great real estate advice, subscribe to our blog or request a first time buyer consultation today.

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