Home sellers’ little white lies

It could be claiming the neighborhood is quiet when it’s not.

It could be underestimating the home’s heating or other utility costs or not mentioning that leaky roof or unreliable furnace.

Or it could be blatantly trying to cover up a basement moisture problem with a fresh coat of paint.

Let’s face it. Despite state disclosure laws, home sellers may not tell prospective buyers everything. And with the traditional home selling season coming up (it usually kicks off in March-April) and the housing market still sluggish, some sellers may be more apt to withhold information to get their property sold.

The Wall Street Journal warns buyers to watch out for common misrepresentations that also include:

–Exaggerating the lot size or house dimensions.

–Saying the home is pest-free when it’s not.

–Property taxes listed may be deceiving. They may be based on assessments that don’t include improvements, like a finished basement or new deck.

–Problems are hidden in the walls, such as faulty wiring, old plumbing and mold.

To protect themselves, buyers shouldn’t rely just on what the home seller and real estate agent (who usually represents the seller) tells them. Check out the neighborhood at different times of the day, talk to neighbors. Check out the property’s records at the local assessor’s office. Many are available online. And always — we repeat, always — hire your own independent home inspector to search out problems. But it may take a specialist to detect inside-the-wall problems.