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BBB Tip of the Week

The residential real estate market is as hot as today’s forecast. According to the Spokane Association of Realtors June 2017 reporting, sales were up, although inventory is down from June 2016. This may mean prospective home buyers are looking to purchase newly built homes and may look to include a home warranty.

Purchasing a home warranty requires time to research and the ability to keep details straight. Some builders offer a warranty (their own or from a third party), but you also can purchase one yourself. You can even have both; a warranty or service contract that you buy may supplement or extend what is offered by your builder.

Last year, Better Business Bureau processed more than 6,000 complaints regarding home warranty companies. The reasons for complaints often include frustration over what isn’t covered, quality of service provided, disputes over fees and length of time for a response. At the same time, many happy customers left positive reviews of companies they believed did right by them.

If you choose to purchase a home warranty, BBB recommends setting yourself up for success with these tips:

Understand the coverage. A home warranty typically offers limited coverage and materials for specific parts of the home like windows, plumbing, electrical systems, heat and air conditioning. Make sure you understand everything you need to do in order to ensure your warranty is not voided (for instance, not changing the filter regularly may void the furnace’s warranty). Know what the coverage includes and for how long.

Know the claim process. Check your warranty to see who is responsible for finding someone to make the repairs. Read the verbiage carefully to understand how issues are resolved and what you may end up paying.

Reporting a claim. File your claim as specified in the warranty. Keep copies of all correspondence with the company and contractors along with dated notes on any conversations.

Research the business. If you do need claim work done, research the company on bbb.org before letting them into your home. Some warranty companies may suggest using the most inexpensive provider, but that’s a good deal for them and may not be for you.

Know your rights. If there is an issue over coverage or whether the work has been done improperly, many warranties provide for mediation and arbitration. Sometimes there is a fee for these services.

If you need help with a home warranty or would like information about consumer assistance, turn to bbb.org. If you are a victim of a scam, report it to bbb.org/scamtracker.