Planning to make a realty investment in 2016? Best options for you

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Buying a home is in everyone’s wishlist and this investment involves financial planning and strategy. If you are planning to buy a property in the year 2016 ensure that that you make a smart choice and not a hurried one.

Indian real estate sector has been sluggish for a few years but is expected to make a turnaround in 2016. Experts believe that the sector is expected to record increase in sales and a reduction in unsold inventories. They believe the government initiatives announced this year will give a push to the sector and reinstate investor confidence.

Sanjay Dutt, managing director, Cushman & Wakefield said,” Overall, the next few years would see forging of some strategic partnerships with select developers, private equity investors also looking at liquidating assets. Consolidation through joint development activities would unlock development potential in major cities, going ahead.”

Real estate experts believe that government’s promotion of 100 Smart Cities, AMRUT (Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation), Housing for All by 2022 and infrastructure development are some of the government steps that would not only benefit the economy, but would also create a sector-wise
positive impact.

“The government’s easing of FDI policy, the probable implementation of the Real Estate Bill and Smart Cities, and the introduction of REITs(real estate investment
trust) would bring in the much-required transparency into the sector and enhance investor confidence in the coming years. The year 2016 is likely to begin on a
cheerful note on the back of reforms and increased investor confidence,” Dutt added.

The RBI has cut rates by 125 basis points in 2015 and both the developers and buyers expect to see the transmission of these lower rates to consumers in 2016.

If you are planning to invest in real estate in the new year then the buyer should keep in mind certain points as the market has multiple choices to offer.

“It is important for a buyer to get a detailed information on the shortlisted projects including the builder type, locality, to name a few. As a buyer you must not get
lured by freebies and discounts that are being offered all around and rather check all the legal documents thoroughly and carefully. Buyers must get all the documents thoroughly verified by a professional,” CommonFloor Groups, co-founder and head Vikas Malpani said.

11 Cheap and Easy Halloween Costumes to Make at Home

Girl dressed as ghostIt’s possible to create pretty much any Halloween costume by thinking outside the box (putting aside the fact that many of the ideas here start with a box). Choosing to DIY instead of buy can save money on a holiday that costs more than you might think. Each person who celebrates Halloween this year will spend an average $74.34 for decorations, costumes and candy, according to the National Retail Federation. With more than 157 million Americans expected to mark the holiday, it’s a $6.9 billion retail bonanza. At the very least, the money saved making one of these costumes at home can be put into a bigger candy budget.

Rocket kid. This Halloween costume suggested by Real Simple is made entirely from items most likely on hand. Dress in all white and use duct tape to create armbands and leg stripes. Use two Pringles cans, streamers and two party hats to create a power pack and Rocket Kid is set for takeoff.

Life-size legos. This Pinterest-inspired costume has only three components: a big box, Solo cups and paint. Start by painting the box blue or red to match the color of the cups, cut armholes and a head hole in the box, and remove the bottom to allow for legs and feet. Glue the Solo cups in place — two lines of three on the front and back, just like a Lego. For an extra touch add a hat: Paint a smaller box, cut out a hole for the head and glue two more Solo cups on top.

Hula girl. This easy and cheap Halloween costume from Real Simple uses a brown paper bag cut into strips for the skirt and different color cupcake liners strung together for a colorful lei and headband.

Animal. Pretty much any animal can be the muse for a homemade Halloween costume. Don a monochromatic sweatsuit and use felt or fabric scraps to fashion a hat or headband to be the ears. Create a tail and other fur detail with scraps of fabric and yarn.

Jellyfish. Dress in white or a light color. Glue white or light pink streamers around the bottom of a clear umbrella and cut eyes from construction paper to attach to the side. Carry the umbrella and — poof! — a jellyfish.

Game show contestant. Wear a college sweatshirt and cut off the side of a cardboard box. On the front panel, paint a scoreboard from “The Price Is Right” or another game show. Use twine to hang the panel in front of you like a podium, add a name tag and it’s done. This easy Halloween costume also can be the building block for a group Halloween costume — “Family Feud” contestants, for example.

Stick figure. Assemble an all-black outfit, including a hoodie — old clothes only. Take a can of neon spray paint and spray a stick figure onto the back of the clothing, with a circle on the hood to serve as the head. Repeat on the front and outline the hood opening for the head.

Bad yearbook picture. This Pinterest-inspired Halloween costume for women requires loading on the blush, bright blue eye shadow, ruby red lipstick, etc. Pick out a gaudy shirt and style big hair and bangs. Cut armholes near the bottom on two sides of a cardboard box and cut off the bottom. Cut out one of the remaining sides, leaving a 3-inch strip of cardboard around the edges and paint this strip to make a picture frame. Paint the inside back of the box a bright blue for the backdrop.

Grapes. This is a classic, dead simple and low-cost getup that can still go for as much as $75 in stores. Instead, start by dressing all in purple. Blow up purple balloons and attach them to the clothing to become a walking cluster of grapes. Top off the costume with a green hat.

Rock, paper, scissors. This group costume takes a bit of effort but is clever and uncomplicated. Cut a cardboard box into the shape of a rock, one side for the front and one for the back. Cut armholes into the sides and spray paint the box gray. Cut armholes in another box and paint the front and back white. Decorate the white surfaces with thin, horizontal lines and three small black circles at the left edges to replicate a piece of loose-leaf paper. Finally, take two large pieces of strong cardboard or poster board and cut them into the shape of scissors, paint them and string ribbon between the two cutouts to wear over the shoulders like a sandwich board.

Soap and loofah. For the first part of this couples’ costume, cut out holes for the arms and head from a rectangular cardboard box and remove the bottom. Paint the box white and spray paint the word “soap” on the front and back, attaching bubble wrap to the corners to look like suds. For the loofah, buy a bunch of tulle and sew it thick and bunchy onto an old dress or pants/shirt combo, preferably the same color as the tulle. Attach a loop of white rope to complete the look.

New Home Sales Drop to Near 1-Year Low

New Home SalesWASHINGTON — New single-family home sales fell to near a one-year low in September after two straight months of gains, but a jump in prices suggested that housing remained on solid ground.

The Commerce Department said Monday sales dropped 11.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 468,000 units, the lowest level since November 2014. August’s sales pace was revised down to 529,000 units from the previously reported 552,000 units.

The September report does little to alter our view that the housing market is continuing to recover.

The moderation in new home sales is at odds with other housing reports that have painted a bullish picture of the sector. New home sales, which account for 7.8 percent of the housing market, tend to be volatile on a month-to-month basis because they are drawn from a small sample.

“The September report does little to alter our view that the housing market is continuing to recover. We view the new home sales data as unreliable and many other more reliable housing indicators have been sending upbeat signals lately,” said Daniel Silver, an economist at JPMorgan (JPM).

September data on existing home sales, homebuilder confidence and housing starts have been fairly strong.

The housing index fell more than 1 percent on the data, underperforming a marginally weaker stock market. D.R. Horton (DRI), the largest U.S. homebuilder, dropped 2.7 percent. Lennar (LEN), the nation’s second-largest homebuilder, fell 2.1 percent.

Prices for U.S. government debt rose, while the dollar slipped against a basket of currencies.

Housing Supporting Economy

A sturdy housing market is supporting consumer spending through an increase in household wealth, which is helping to soften the blow on the economy from faltering global growth, a strong dollar and weak capital spending in the energy sector.

Efforts by businesses to reduce an inventory bloat also have weighed on growth, leaving gross domestic product growth estimates for the third quarter running below a 2 percent annualized rate.

The economy grew at a 3.9 percent rate in the second quarter. The government will publish its advance third-quarter GDP estimate Thursday.

Economists had forecast new home sales slipping to only a rate of 550,000 units. Sales were up 2 percent compared to September of last year.

New home sales tumbled 61.8 percent in the Northeast to the lowest level since April. Sales declined 6.7 percent in the West and were down 8.7 percent in the populous South. In the Midwest, sales fell 8.3 percent.

With sales weak, the stock of new houses for sale increased 4.2 percent to 225,000 last month, the highest level since March 2010. Still, supply remains less than half of what it was at the height of the housing boom.

At September’s sales pace it would take 5.8 months to clear the supply of houses on the market, the highest since July 2014. That was up from 4.9 months in August.

The median price of a new home rose 13.5 percent from a year ago to a nine-month high of $296,900.

“The strong price gains suggest either that the mix of houses shifted to more expensive houses or that homebuilders are pushing up prices,” said John Ryding, chief economist at RDQ Economics in New York. “Weakening demand would be accompanied by slowing price gains or price declines.”

Fewer Americans Sign Contracts to Buy Homes in September

Pending Home SalesWASHINGTON — September marked a slowdown in Americans signing contracts to buy homes, the second consecutive decline for a real estate market that has been rebounding for the first half of 2015.

The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that its seasonally adjusted pending home sales index dropped 2.3 percent to 106.8 last month. The index has risen 3 percent over the past 12 months, aided by solid hiring levels and low mortgage rates that fueled stronger demand during the traditional summer buying season.

But evidence of fading momentum has surfaced in recent months. Sales of newly built homes fell 11.5 percent last month, as choppy financial markets and rising home prices are creating affordability pressures for would-be buyers. The strong demand for housing due to stronger job market — with unemployment at a robust 5.1 percent — has failed to produce an influx of new listings that could help sales.

Pending sales are a barometer of future purchases. A lag of a month or two usually exists between a contract and a completed sale. Signed contracts fell in the Northeast, Midwest and South last month, while slipping slightly in the West.

Over the past 12 months, sales of existing homes have risen 8.8 percent over the past 12 months. But the inventory on the market has dropped 3.1 percent, the Realtors said last week.

A mere 4.8 months’ supply of homes is available for would-be buyers, substantially below the 6 months associated with a healthy market.

The tight inventories have pushed up home values. The median home sales price was $221,900 in September, a 6.1 percent annual increase.

But historically low borrowing costs have offset the impact of rising prices.

The average fixed-rate, 30-year mortgage this week was 3.76 percent, down from 3.98 percent a year ago, according to the mortgage firm Freddie Mac.

10 Tips to Get the Best Deals From Outlet Shopping

Sale sign in the clothing shopI used to think of outlets as a repository of amazing deals on brands I love. But after researching this story and making a trip to an outlet mall, my opinion has changed.

I recently trekked to a Gap outlet store hoping for big savings on their pants. But I was surprised by what I found: jeans that looked noticeably different and of lower quality than the pairs I’d purchased from the mall back home. How could this be?

As it turns out, I wasn’t mistaken. According to Consumer Reports, Gap is one of several retailers that manufacture clothing specifically for their outlets, and these items may be different and of lower quality than what is in regular stores. This isn’t the only trick retailers pull at their outlet stores, either.

Outlets still offer plenty of great deals that can make the trip worthwhile, but some savings aren’t always what they seem.

1. Give outlet goods a closer look. Outlets aren’t just for items that didn’t sell at the retail store. Some offer seconds or B-grade goods, and many stores stock items that are only made for outlets, sometimes with noticeable differences in quality from what you’d find at the mall.

According to The Dallas Morning News, Saks outlets — Saks Off 5th — says only 12 percent of its goods are overstock from Saks Fifth Avenue stores. The rest was made specifically for the outlet location. Gap, Brooks Brothers and Coach admit they manufacture separate lines of goods exclusively for their outlet stores. Only 20 percent of what Nordstrom Rack sells is clearance merchandise from Nordstrom stores and website, according to this report, while the rest is bought expressly for the outlet.

Outlet-only clothing and goods vary in quality, so be sure to take a close look. Does the item feel like it’s lighter? Does it look low quality? Some items might say “outlet” or “factory line” right on the tag. Here’s a tip from Buzzfeed: “J.Crew Factory (the outlet for J.Crew) puts two diamonds under the “r” on its labels, while the Gap Outlet label uses three dots.”

It’s possible the outlet version is cheaply made and won’t last as long as what you’d buy from the regular store, so factor in quality as well as price. On the other hand, some differences might be insignificant, and the savings may outweigh them.

2. Compare prices beforehand. Retailers know you’re looking for savings at outlet stores, and many try to make these discounts seem as deep as possible. You may see signs at the outlet store suggesting prices are 65 percent off, but those only apply to the sorts of things that haven’t sold despite repeated markdowns. Consumer Reports says the average savings are closer to 38 percent. You’ll often see markdowns off the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, but outlet or not, customers rarely pay this suggested price.

If you want to know what you’re really saving, check the retailer’s website and compare prices. You may be surprised to find outlet discounts aren’t as big as they claim.

3. Join online outlet clubs. Premium Outlets and Tanger, two of the largest outlet operators, with 70 and 35 malls respectively, offer exclusive promotions when you become a member of their clubs.

With Premium Outlets’ free VIP Club, you’ll receive online coupons and notifications of special events.

Tanger charges a one-time $10 fee to join TangerClub, but you’ll get a $10 gift card in return along with exclusive member offers and savings.

4. Get the best deals off-season. Shop for your winter clothing in the summer and for summer items in winter to bring outlet prices down even further.

5. Time your shopping trip. Outlets can be very busy, so you’ll do best by avoiding both congestion and picked-over shelves by shopping at off-peak times. Experts suggest stopping in on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and shopping early in the day. If you’re not a morning person, avoid the early afternoon and wait until dinnertime.

6. Check retail stores before outlets. Try shopping the local mall during sales or with coupons, where you might find the prices to be comparable but the quality better. Don’t forget to look at clearance items both in the store and online.

7. Check with outlet centers for coupons and circulars. Coupons and other discounts can make outlet shopping an even better deal. Call or go online to see if any coupons or circulars offer additional savings. Senior and military discounts might also be available.

8. Watch the return policy. Unless you don’t mind driving back to the outlet mall, check the return policy before loading up on discounted goods. Many regular stores don’t take returns from outlet locations.

9. Ask outlet staff. If you have questions about the quality of outlet items, don’t be afraid to ask store staff. Some employees may tell you if it’s made for the outlet or offer other valuable information.

10. Don’t fall into the daytrip trap. Don’t see anything you like? Don’t be afraid to leave empty-handed.

Outlet malls are typically placed in far-away locations. Not only is this real estate cheaper, but shoppers may also look at outlet shopping as investing in a full-day trip. With the expenses of gas, time and energy, shoppers may feel they need to justify the sunk costs and end up spending more than they would otherwise.

Ignore the impulse to spend more just to make the trip feel worthwhile. Shelling out more money for unneeded stuff won’t make you feel better, no matter how much you spend on gas.

Outlet stores are just one way to find bargains, of course. If treasure hunting is your passion, don’t forget to check our tips on shopping at thrift stores, Not Your Grandma’s Goodwill, consider Rebate Sites that Pay You for Shopping Onlineand peruse the 10 Best Buys at Warehouse Clubs.

6 Reasons to Remain in Your Current Home in Retirement

Senior couple using tablet computer at home
The typical retirement dream involves riding off into the sunbelt, golf clubs and beach umbrella in hand. However, the reality is that the majority of retirees never leave home. Most people opt to age in place, or if they do move, they find a smaller house near their old neighborhood.

Only about 7 percent of older Americans move every year, according to a long-term study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. And even though more people have recently been relocating with the improving economy, an AARP survey found that most people approaching retirement hope to remain in their current residence as long as they can.

Here’s why retirees resist the siren call of the beach and tropical breezes:

Home is where the heart is. Many people feel attached to their home towns. Whether they grew up there or moved there to raise a family, they still enjoy going to the park where they took their kids as toddlers. They feel comfortable knowing about the best hardware store and the best pizza place. Many old-line suburbs have developed programs and amenities for their older population. Another benefit: urban centers in the north provide better public transportation than the retirement meccas of the sunbelt. There’s no subway in San Diego or T in Tampa.

Home is where your friends are. You go to the library and see familiar faces. Maybe you belong to a book club, or regularly meet friends for lunch, tennis or golf. All the research says that a strong social network is crucial for successful aging. Friends not only supply emotional support, but sometimes offer practical benefits like loaning you a book or DVD, helping with a project at home or giving you a ride. Why should you uproot yourself, move a thousand miles away and then be faced with the sometimes difficult challenge of finding a new group of like-minded friends?

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People retire in the last place they land.Some people never settle down to live in one place for 20 or 30 years to raise their kids in a single community. Many baby boomers have moved around for work, or just because they’re restless, and then finally put down roots when they’re in their 40s or 50s. For example, my sister-in-law grew up in New Jersey, then moved to Michigan, Texas and finally in her late 40s settled down in Pennsylvania. She’s pretty adamant that she’s not moving again.

You don’t necessarily save much money. It costs a lot to move. You give up about 10 percent of the selling price of your house in real estate commissions, legal fees and taxes. Then there’s the cost of buying, moving and resupplying your new house. If you’re moving a long distance there are additional expenses involved in traveling and researching your new location. You might need to rent for a while or store some furniture. It’s not worth it if you only save a couple thousand dollars a year in your cost of living.

It doesn’t have to cost a lot to age-proof your home. Of course you can spend a lot of money if you want to remodel your entire house. But many of the safety issues involved in age-proofing a home involve modest expenses. Improve the lighting in stairways and outdoor areas. Change out doorknobs for lever handles that are easier to manipulate. Install bathroom grab bars and raised toilet seats. Get rid of scatter rugs, and put down colorful traction strips on the front edge of your stairs to help prevent falls. None of these changes costs much money. Depending on the layout of your home, it may even be possible to turn a study or den on the first floor into a master suite, converting the upstairs rooms into guest quarters.

Visit a virtual village. Virtual retirement villages can help seniors access resources to make it easier to age in place. A virtual village is a local non-profit organization that posts information online, providing referrals to member-recommended service companies and volunteers available to help out with dog walking, yard work and other homeowner needs. Some villages host social activities such as concerts, restaurant gatherings and group trips. Check outVillage to Village Network to find out more information on what villages do and how they work.

Buy Your Medicare Plan … on the Home Shopping Network?

elderly woman using credit card over the phoneThe Home Shopping Network, well-known for hawking wares such as jewelry, electronics and kitchen accessories, will be selling something entirely out of the ordinary for the network Nov. 7: Medicare insurance plans.

If you think HSN and Medicare are an unlikely pair, you’re not alone; it took me awhile to wrap my head around this. The network is taking advantage of the Medicare Annual Enrollment period, which runs through Dec. 7, and partnering with Aetna and the American Grandparents Association to promote and sell Aetna’s Medicare options, according to a press release.

It’s the first time that HSN viewers have been able to access insurance through the network. It’s also a novel way for Aetna to educate baby boomers about its Medicare plans. Said Nancy Cocozza, president of Aetna Medicare:

As part of Aetna’s mission to build a healthier world, we are committed to helping consumers make smart health care choices. This means simplifying consumers’ insurance-buying experience so they can focus on achieving their best health. Aetna’s collaboration with AGA and HSN is a new way for consumers to learn about Medicare options with Aetna and have their questions answered directly by Aetna’s representatives.

On Saturday, Nov. 7, Aetna representatives will be featured live on HSN cable channel, online and via mobile. Viewers can call and talk to Aetna licensed agents about their Medicare needs and options.

“We are proud of the ongoing relationship we have established with Aetna and AGA to better inform those who are considering their health care options — one of the most important decisions they make each year,” Bill Brand, president of HSN, said in a statement. “Through informational content and engaging experiences we can demystify the process and provide a unique service to our customers.”

For information on Medicare, including eligibility, coverage choices and how to apply, go to

Tight Inventories, Rising Prices Hurt Home Sales

Existing U.S. Home Sales Rise to Second-Highest Since 2007
WASHINGTON — Home resales fell in October as a persistent shortage of properties limited choice for potential buyers and pushed up prices, suggesting some softening in the pace of the housing market recovery after strong gains early this year.

Still, housing remains on solid footing, with sales for the full year on track to be the best in eight years. That should see housing take up some of the slack from a chronically weak manufacturing sector.

The housing market is in decent shape but could be a lot better if people decided they were ready to move and listed their homes.

“The housing market is in decent shape but could be a lot better if people decided they were ready to move and listed their homes,” said Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors in Holland, Pennsylvania.

The National Association of Realtors said Monday existing home sales declined 3.4 percent to an annual rate of 5.36 million units. September’s sales pace was unrevised at 5.55 million units and was the second highest since 2007.

The drop in sales was expected after contracts to purchase previously owned homes fell for two straight months. But with a tightening labor market, marked by a 5 percent unemployment rate, housing fundamentals are fairly healthy.

In addition, the government has taken steps to ease lending standards for young adults. However, an anticipated interest rate hike next month by the Federal Reserve could make housing a bit expensive, especially if there is no significant pick-up in wage growth.

“There is every reason to expect that the demand for homes will grind higher in the coming months. While interest rates are set to rise, so are incomes, and that will keep housing affordability historically favorable,” said Matthew Pointon, property economist at Capital Economics in New York.

The weak sales come on the heels of reports last week showing a drop in housing starts in October and a decline in confidence among homebuilders. Economists had forecast sales falling to a rate of 5.4 million units last month.

The dollar rose to an eight-month high against a basket of currencies, while prices for U.S. government debt were up marginally. The housing index rose 0.3 percent as the shortage of houses for sale was seen boosting homebuilders such as D.R. Horton (DRI) and Lennar (LEN).

A separate report showed Markit’s Purchasing Managers Index hit a 25-month low in early November, highlighting continued weakness in the factory sector. The decline, however, brought the PMI in line with the Institute for Supply Management survey, which has a longer history of tracking the manufacturing sector.

Pain in the West

October home sales were up 3.9 percent from a year ago and held above their average for the year. Sales dropped 8.7 percent in the West from the prior month and fell 3.2 percent in the South. These two regions, which are experiencing strong population growth, have seen large price increases due to tight inventory.

The supply squeeze is mostly hurting the lower end of the market, where sales have dropped sharply from a year ago.

Last month, the number of unsold homes on the market fell 2.3 percent from September to 2.14 million units. Supply was down 4.5 percent from a year ago, a worrying sign as housing heads into a quiet season, the NAR said.

At October’s sales pace, it would take 4.8 months to clear the stock of houses on the market, up from 4.7 months in September. A six-months supply is viewed as a healthy balance between supply and demand.

With inventories tight, the median house price increased 5.8 percent from a year ago to $219,600. October’s price increase marked the 44th straight month of year-on-year gains.

Although higher prices could sideline potential buyers, especially those wanting to purchase a home for the first time, they are boosting equity for homeowners, which could encourage them to put their homes on the market.

Realtors and economists say insufficient equity has contributed to the tight housing inventories. Last month, the share of first-time buyers crept up from September to almost a third. But the share was still the second lowest since 1981 on an annual basis.

“First-time home buyers continue to be crowded out by competition from investor sales. Price pressures from low inventory present another headwind to first-time buyers,” said Derek Lindsey, an economist at BNP Paribas in New York.

Help! I Was Sold a Bad Home. Now What?

Plumbers working on pipes under sinkSometimes all the safeguards the real estate industry has put in place to help prevent buyer’s remorse after purchasing a house still don’t work.

The process takes time for a reason, and you aren’t getting a home inspection for the fun of it. It can happen. You can buy a plot of disappointment.

It’s never easy to bounce back from purchasing a house you quickly wish you hadn’t bought. You’ve moved in. You may have nowhere else to go. You’ve not only spent a lot of money, but a lot of time and energy. And the law isn’t necessarily on your side. Still, if you’re determined to get your money back, or at least some satisfaction, you’ll want to remember the following.

Know your rights. Here’s the good news. You are (probably) within your rights to sue someone who knowingly sells you a house with serious problems.

“Most U.S. states have a home seller disclosure law that requires a seller to disclose defects in the home that they are aware of. Such defects include foundation and structural issues, roofing, HVAC, fireplace, basement, plumbing, electrical, siding, floors, walls, windows and even appliances,” says Lance Luke, owner of Construction Management Inspection, in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Maybe most importantly, he adds: “The seller disclosure case law actually mandates that the seller disclose not only what they know, but what they should have known.”

It’s another story in the Lone Star State, says Matthew Young, owner of Autus Properties, a custom home builder in Plano, Texas.

“Generally, Texas is buyer beware when buying a home,” Young says. “The real estate promulgated form gives buyers time periods to make inspections of anything and everything they feel is relevant.”

Moreover, Young says, “for Texas, generally once an issue is fixed, a homeowner no longer has to disclose it.”

If you buy a house from someone who had a roof leak, and it was fixed, you’re under no obligation to know that because the seller doesn’t have to disclose it, Young says.

The burden of proof is on you. And here is the bad news (or worse news, since the good news wasn’t great): It’s hard to prove anyone knowingly sold you a dump.

That’s why real estate experts urge homeowners to hire a qualified and competent home inspector or perhaps purchase a home warranty that covers unknown defects. If you’re going to get a court to side with you, generally, you have to prove that the seller actually knew about the defects when they sold you the house, says Peter Boscas, owner of Red Cedar Real Estate in Columbia, Maryland.

And that isn’t easy.

Every once in a while, you may get lucky. “I had a client come across proof of deception once completely by accident,” Boscas says. “They had called a local plumber randomly out of the phone book to come repair a sewage issue in the basement that had come up a few weeks after settlement. When the plumber arrived, he made a comment to the new homeowners that he had been to the house already four or five times in the last couple of months for the same exact issue.”

If the new homeowners hadn’t happened to call the same plumber, who noted he’d given the old homeowners estimates of what it would have cost to repair the water issues, though they took no action, there would have been no proof that they had been knowingly sold a problematic home.

As it turns out, Boscas says the new homeowners confronted the sellers about the plumbing, “and to avoid litigation, the sellers agreed to cover half the cost of the repair.”

Which should be encouraging. If you really have a case, just threatening to sue may work.

Don’t rush to your lawyer. Yes, you’re angry. Yes, something needs to be done. Yes, you may have the right to sue. But Ron Rovtar, a real estate broker with Cherry Creek Properties in Boulder, Colorado, says that he would recommend you first go to your agent.

For one, he says, “court cases are expensive.” Moreover, he adds: “It has been my experience that often a more direct approach is the best first option for solving a post-closing problem.”

He advises you at least talk things out and see if you can come up with a decent resolution with the seller before you call your attorney. If you can’t do that, or you’re convinced that you have to go to court, he strongly suggests, “Do not drop this bomb until you have indeed talked to an attorney.”

There are two reasons for that, Rovtar says, explaining: “You may find that you really do not have a case, or that the payoff will probably be too small. The law and the way courts interpret it can be confusing to us non-lawyers.”

Besides, Rovtar points out that you’ll likely be asked for the name and phone number of your attorney; all the more reason to have actually spoken to one. “In this business, legal threats are made all the time. No one will take you seriously if you have not at the least talked to a lawyer,” he says.

Prevention is, well, you know. Nobody wants to hear this if they’re in a jam. But if you were worried about this sort of thing, and you, say, brought in a real estate attorney, he or she probably gave you an escape clause, like adding a rider to a standard purchase and sale agreement, says Robert Pellegrini, president of PK Boston, a real estate law firm.

“Without affirmations in writing, the buyers will have a difficult time defeating the well-established principal of caveat emptor, buyer beware,” Pellegrini says.

But all is not lost if you don’t have the rider, Pellegrini says.

“You should look for any evidence that the sellers may have known about the condition,” he says, adding that if you can prove the seller took steps to hide the defects, you may be able to seek damages.

Of course, attorneys don’t come cheap, and if you have the money to go to court to try and force the seller to make repairs or amends in some other way, you probably have the income to fix your house. When you don’t have the money for either the attorney or repairs, that’s when you may have to learn to love your house, even the parts of it you hate.