The 15 most common home buying mistakes (and how to avoid them!)
Are you in the market to buy a house? Here are the 15 most common mistakes that buyers frequently make, costing them time, money, and too often, a chance to close on the house they really want! But don’t worry – when I’m your Realtor, I’ll make sure you’re not making any of these mistakes!
1. Shopping above their pay-grade:
Some home buyers get fixated on a certain home that’s priced higher than they can realistically afford, which can cause everyone involved a lot of wasted work, money, and heartache. That’s why you get a loan preapproval and carefully budget before you start home shopping!
2. Buying that "funky" house.
While you’re out there looking, there’s always one house that seems a little strange, has an insurmountable flaw, or is just “funky” for lack of a better term. You’d be wise to avoid the biggest home on the block, the house with the weird floor plan, homes with garage or patio additions (that the owner usually did themselves) or any strange characteristics. Not only will these flaws grow more prevalent over time while you live there, but they’ll come back to bite you when it’s time to resell!
3. Setting their heart on only one house.
First-time buyers, especially, may fall in love with the “one” house that was just “meant to be,” only to be crushed when their offer isn’t accepted. Remember that a lot of other people are out looking for a home for their family at the same time you are, so don’t become enamored with just one home – there are plenty of houses that can make a wonderful home for you!
4. Trying to buy with a contingent offer.
Sometimes, people need to sell their existing home before they buy another one. But making purchase offers that are contingent on that sale could be an almost-instant deal killer with potential sellers. Let’s chat about the strategy of selling your home first and the right timing of buying so you won’t have to make contingent offers.
5. Hoping to find a house that checks every box on their wish list.
You’ll probably have a wish list when we go house hunting, but it will be nearly impossible to find that one home with everything on that list – like a low price, great neighborhood, huge size, pool, etc. So I’ll encourage you to prioritize what’s most important in a home from 1-10, so we can find you the right – not necessarily the perfect – house.
6. Buying a house that’s too small.
Some buyers go for a home that’s just too small for their needs, or much smaller than the rest in the neighborhood. Remember that it's easy to remodel and fix up a home, but it's difficult (and incredibly expensive) to add square footage, so buy a house that’s big enough to meet your needs and be a good investment.
7. Not consulting their CPA.
It’s important for home buyers to communicate with their CPA or tax preparer to gain invaluable advice when you should close on the house, what you can write-off, and other strategies may save you a lot of money come tax time.
8. Waiving a home inspection.
The #1 no-no a buyer could make is not getting a home inspection. It’s incredibly shortsighted to think that you’re saving a few hundred dollars by skipping this critical inspection, which could cost you exponentially more with surprise problems once you own the home. Not only should you get a home inspection, but also most lenders will require a pest inspection, and a roof certification is a good idea, too.
9. Listening to the wrong people.
The moment you mention that you want to buy a house (or sell one), every neighbor, friend and coworker will instantly become a real estate expert with plenty of unsolicited advice for you. Be careful whom you listen to – unless someone is a successful investor or real estate professional, you might want to take his or her advice with a grain of salt.
10. Being hesitant to make offers.
Buying a home can be an intense and overwhelming process, which sometimes causes buyers to be way too hesitant to write offers on houses they like, called "paralysis by analysis." Of course, you want to be careful and make wise decisions, but writing an offer is just the start of a long process so scrutinizing every single decision to the point of losing sleep over it and shutting down from fear will only lose you valuable opportunities.
11. Not getting pre-approved by a mortgage broker before you go house hunting.
If buyers don't getting pre-approved before they start looking at homes and putting offers down, they're wasting their time and precious money – as well as possibly throwing a monkey wrench in the process for the sellers, agents, etc. The good news is that with a pre-approval, you'll know exactly what you can afford and the home search will be easier.
12. Being scared away by cosmetic fixes.
Too often, home buyers will see an overpriced home and fall in love with it just because the bathroom and kitchen are remodeled. Just as often, buyers get scared away by a home that needs a little bit of cosmetic work – but is priced great. In fact, cosmetic fixes like paint, flooring, landscaping, fixtures, and tile are weekend projects that shouldn’t make you toss your buying strategy out the window – or keep you from getting a great deal.
13. Not taking a good, hard look at the neighborhood.
You’re not just buying your home, but buying the neighborhood it's in, as well. In fact, you can easily remodel and change your home, but you can’t control the conditions of your neighborhood or who will be living in your vicinity. So make sure to drive by at different times of night and day – including Saturday nights. You should also walk around to chat with your potential new neighbors, ask questions, look at reports on crime, school systems, etc. and read up on any news articles.
14. Not thinking about long-term resale value.
They say you make your profit from selling a property on the same day you buy it. In fact, certain resale factors like the "bones" of the property, the layout of your lot, proximity to desirable schools and parks, and the overall values in the neighborhood will largely pre-determine your investment, even when selling years down the road. You might have to pay more for a great property today, but that value will grow under your care, allowing you to cash in even bigger when you sell it.
15. Not negotiating as much as you should.
When I represent you as your Realtor, everything is negotiable! Of course, we don’t want to waste anyone’s time by asking for the bizarre or ridiculous, but I’m not afraid to do the extra work and go the extra mile when it comes to reasonable counter offers and “sharpening the pencil” on terms and conditions. When you get a motivated seller and a serious buyer, just about everything is negotiable when I’m on the job – which results in a better deal for you!