Consumer Protection Series: There’s No Place Like Home

Buying a home can be a long, complicated process. Because many different people in different roles demand your trust, time, and money, you can easily feel uneasy or stressed. Although many of the risks that accompany the home-buying process cannot be mitigated, some liabilities are avoidable if you do your due diligence.

The task will never be as simple as clicking your red heels together three times and uttering the magic phrase “There’s no place like home.” However, there are ways you can give yourself the peace of mind you deserve. One way to do that as a potential homebuyer is by ensuring that the professionals you are working with are bonded. Bonded professionals are not only experts in their field, but they’re also prioritizing their customers’ best interests.

We have put together a list of professionals you may encounter in the home-buying process who should be bonded. Bonded professionals across all sectors prove they are looking out for the consumer, and the home-buying industry is no different.

Real Estate Agents

The first step in the home-buying process often involves finding a third party to broker the deal. Real estate agents are individuals who represent property sellers and buyers; they may work as independent agents or may be part of a larger company. These agents typically take a central role in touring properties, gathering additional information from homeowners, and making and negotiating offers.

In the unfortunate and unlikely event that a real estate agent commits fraud through these transactions completed during the home-buying process, buyers or sellers can collect on the agent’s bond if the real estate agent is found guilty in a court of law. As a result, bonded real estate agents must responsibly manage all funds given to them by consumers.

Mortgage Brokers

Although they do not originate mortgages, mortgage brokers are individuals who bridge the gap between borrowers and lenders. Essentially, mortgage brokers gather the paperwork for borrowers and submit the documents to lenders for review, leading to an approval or denial. Mortgage brokers work with lenders and your real estate agent to smoothly manage the mortgage acquisition process.

Mortgage broker bonds protect consumers against fraudulent acts committed by mortgage professionals. For example, brokers who mishandle information provided for loan purposes or incorrectly quote rates on behalf of mortgage lenders could be held liable for those behaviors.

Contractors

People hire contractors in the home-buying process to work on the home itself. General contractors oversee projects that enhance the value of the home to the homebuyer, such as rewiring, building additions, or repairing features of the house. The inspectors who evaluate the home prior to purchase and report on its condition to the buyer and seller also fall in the contractor category.

Contractor bonds protect consumers should these contractors engage in theft or damage. For example, if a bonded contractor steals a valuable item from your home while working, and the individual is found guilty in a court of law, you may recoup the financial loss. The process of receiving compensation is much more straightforward with a bonded contractor than it would be with a contractor who was not bonded. Luckily, more cities are requiring their contractors to become bonded before receiving their license.

Appraisal Management Company

Appraisal management companies are businesses comprised of multiple appraisers. Appraisers facilitate the valuation of real estate properties in the home-buying process, determining how much a home is worth in the eyes of the real estate market. This entails a review of everything from the home’s location to its condition.

Thus, appraisal management company bonds safeguard consumers by making sure appraisers operate legally. An unjustified valuation that’s very low in comparison to comparable properties, for example, could impact several parties in a prospective purchase. Should an appraisal management company fail to adhere to the law, consumers have the potential to seek reimbursement.

Notaries

Notaries are individuals who certify the legitimacy of documents. In the home-buying process, notaries witness the signing of crucial documents involved in buying a home, such as affidavits of title or escrow agreements.

Notary bonds are legally binding contracts that ensure notary professionals act ethically and in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations. If a bonded notary public committed a breach of conduct, a claim could be made against the notary’s bond.

Looking to become bonded?

Being a bonded professional certainly has its advantages. Surety protection benefits not only consumers, but also professionals. Bonded individuals or companies demonstrate that they are looking out for the consumer and are holding themselves to high standards that benefit all parties.

Are you looking for a bond? Head to SuretyBonds.com, or give us a call at 1 (800) 308-4358 to get your free, no-obligation quote today. As always, we’re happy to help.

About the Author

Carly Levine
Carly is a senior at the University of Missouri studying Communications with an emphasis in Mass Media. She is a member of the marketing department and outreach team for SuretyBonds.com, a leading provider of online bonding for clients nationwide. She loves creative writing, reading, and most importantly, sushi.