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Not a survey of complainers

The J.D. Power home buyer surveys are not skewed toward those who have problems. "Gripers don't bias the results," director James Paules says. While some respondents drew diagrams and wrote notes about their issues in the survey's margins, Paules reports that "many people send in glowing recommendations. They have so much emotional equity in their homes that they take every opportunity to tell someone about it."

In addition, while it might be expected that because love is blind, excited first-time buyers would complain less than those who have gone through the process several times, just the opposite is true.

"New buyers believe the zero-defect spiel," Paules says. "But the expectations are not nearly as high for those who have done this before."

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