Buying a home is one of the largest investments you’ll ever make. Any mistake could cost you in the long run.
Avoiding common mistakes homeowners make when buying a home can help you navigate the process without any major bumps in the road. Learn what real estate pros say are the biggest home-buying mistakes and how to avoid them.
- Not Getting Pre-Approved
Getting prequalified or preapproved for a home loan is an important first step when shopping for your new home. It demonstrates to sellers that you are a serious buyer with the ability to secure financing and make a quick transaction.
If you change anything in your financial situation after you get pre approved, such as a change in job or significant increase in debt, you could be denied the mortgage that you were originally approved for. This is especially true if you’re shopping with an FHA or VA mortgage, which have different debt-to-income ratio requirements than conventional mortgages.
A good mortgage consultant will help you understand the criteria for each type of home financing and recommend steps to avoid denial. For instance, if you are shopping with an FHA mortgage, your consultant might suggest that you reduce your debt payment or close some credit cards to lower your debt-to-income ratio.
- Not Using a Realtor
Purchasing your first home can feel like an exhilarating adventure, and one that will set the tone for your life. Buying a home is a major financial decision, and it’s important to get it right.
Buying a home without a Realtor can lead to many costly mistakes. It’s best to work with a professional, unless you are purchasing a home from a family member or from a new construction builder that does not require a buyer’s agent.
Realtors are available to answer your questions at all hours of the day and night. They are trained to speak real estate lingo, and understand all the nuances of mortgage underwriting and escrow. They also know the local market well, and can help you find homes that may not be on the market yet.
- Not Having a Budget
Purchasing your first home is one of the biggest financial decisions you will make. Unfortunately, many new homeowners don’t have a budget that includes all the extra costs of homeownership like utilities, lawn care, HOA fees, and repairs.
It’s also important to factor in mortgage interest rates when creating a budget.
Slight changes in interest rates can significantly change how much you pay each month.
Some people are able to buy homes outright without taking out a loan, but for most of us, a mortgage is necessary. This is why it’s essential to create a budget that allows for your desired monthly mortgage payment, closing costs, and moving expenses. This will help you avoid buying a home you can’t afford. This can lead to stress and financial hardship down the road.
- Not Knowing the Difference Between Your Must-Haves and Your Nice-To-Haves
While it’s important to have your “must-haves” in mind when buying a home, you also need to know what features are “nice-to-haves” and which ones you’re willing to compromise on. This will help you stay on budget and find a home that suits your lifestyle. Plus, many of the features you consider nice-to-haves will add value to your home in the long run and help you recoup some of the cost when you eventually sell. Having the best refrigerator is not the number one thing you need but having a good refrigerator that won’t constantly break down is important.
For example, if your must-haves are that it needs to be close to work and schools and has a large lot, then you should be flexible when it comes to the nice-to-have features such as stainless steel appliances or a pool. This will save you time and money in the long run.
- Not Having a Good Real Estate Agent
Buying a home is a huge undertaking. There are many things to keep in mind from finding a home that fits your lifestyle, to negotiating with the seller and getting all the paperwork finalized.
Real estate agents are experts in their area of specialization and can help you find a home that is right for you. They know the neighborhoods, what comparable homes are selling for, and can point out warning signs that you might miss when touring a property.
Having an agent can also save you money. For example, they can advise you on whether you should pay for a home inspection and counsel you after the home inspection to determine if any repair requests should be made. They can even help you negotiate a lower price for the home.