Thinking of buying a home? Be wary of tall tales

Thinking of buying a home? Be wary of tall tales »Play Video

PORTLAND, Ore. - Buying a home is one of the more stressful milestones in your life and the last thing you need is someone lying to you, but it can happen. 

People trying to unload their property feel the pressure, so they just gloss over the truth and by the time you figure it out, you're stuck with buyer's remorse. 

Before you get to that point, here are 10 of the most common tall tales sellers tell.  

THE ROOF HAS BEEN FIXED

Doug Barkee smiles when he hears that line.  The Portland home inspector knows how quickly your dream house can turn into a nightmare.  He says if you hear "the roof leaked once but we fixed it," be careful. 

"That's a great one always," he says.  "Oftentimes that means the homeowners got up there with a bucket of tar and they tried to patch the one, two, five areas that they came across."

NO WATER IN THE BASEMENT

Barkee says homes are never bone dry, so don't believe it.  Look for clues that could uncover big problems - water intrusion, water damage or signs of past staining.

In many cases, the sellers aren't intentionally trying to deceive you.  They think they know the answers to your questions, but they're wrong.

NO SEWER OR OIL TANK PROBLEMS

Barkee says that in addition to a regular home inspector, you should hire a professional who specializes in things like sewage lines and underground oil tanks.  Some homeowners may not know anything about what's under their house.  

NO RADON IN THE HOME

You also need a radon inspection.  Lots of sellers promise there's no radon, but according to the Environmental Protection Agency, one out of every 15 homes has elevated levels of radon.

THE APPLIANCES ARE NEW

Sellers may also mislead you when you ask about appliances.

"It may have seemed to them they bought it recently, but recently may have been 10 years ago," says Barkee.

THE FIREPLACE WORKS

What about that pretty fireplace - does it really work?  Sellers may say it does, but it could be unsafe.

"Maybe all they've ever done is have minimal fires in there twice a year.  You come in on your first day here with your new family.  You want to start the big rip roaring fire to enjoy it.  That's the day it overheats and causes a fire the first day you're there," says Barkee.

NO AIRPLANE NOISE

Do the planes fly over this house?  It's another common fib, especially in northeast Portland.  Barkee says you should hang out for a few hours during different times a day and listen.

THE NEIGHBORS ARE GREAT

And what about those neighbors?  The canned answer is that they're great!  You should probably knock on a few doors and meet them yourself.  You can also check out rottenneighbor.com, where people anonymously vent about their nasty neighbors.

THE SCHOOLS ARE GREAT

The same goes for the quality of schools.  People trying to sell will tell you they're the best, but do some research.  Get a free report at homefair.com or greatschools.net.

WE FIXED IT

And finally, be wary of weekend projects.  They say it's perfect, but some sellers just don't realize they're not that handy.

WHAT ELSE?

A few more things you should check out:

  • Permits for new additions and empty lots around the house.  Check with the city to make sure everything is legal. 
  • And find out what can be built around your property.   It's important to remember that property disclosure laws require sellers to tell you if there are any issues or problems with the house before you buy it.

MORE RESOURCES