The scam: To disguise a major problem with a home—think toxic mold in the bedrooms or sinkholes under the garage—the owner will do a cosmetic fix, then lie on the property disclosure statement. She may even get the real estate agent and inspector in on the game.
How to Avoid It: Get references for a trusted inspector, and hire him to tour the property. Look carefully at fresh paint jobs and flooring. Ask to see a home’s repair records, and if any questions crop up, call the repair companies to get more details.