Whether you’re getting married, looking for more space to raise a family, want to stop renting and start investing, or maybe you’re looking for a rental property you can make some extra cash on – The reasons people have for wanting to buy a home can vary. However, whatever your reason, you’ll want to be sure to avoid these top 4 mistakes (trust me, you can’t afford to make them!)
#1: Let’s start by talking about “Agent Hopping” – This is something you’ll want to avoid doing when it comes time to purchase a home. To position yourself for success when it comes to finding and getting an accepted offer on your (insert correct answer: dream home, starter home, investment property, etc), you’re going to want to have someone representing YOU! On the flip side, let’s say you don’t want to be tied to anyone specifically, you think you know enough about the process and want to be in control. Well in that case you’re most likely going to be contacting the agent who is listing the house you are interested in. That means you won’t have anyone to educate you about the process (it’s not HGTV, so unless you’re a licensed Real Estate Agent, there are going to be things you don’t know). You won’t get detailed information on the market, recommendations for how much to offer, or any red flags you should be aware of.
You’ll want to interview agents before you start looking at homes so that you can find someone you trust to be your advocate throughout the entire process. Buying a home is often the biggest financial investment you will make and you’ll want someone who works in this industry to be your advocate along the way.
#2: Miscalculating the costs associated with buying a home – Purchase price, check! Down payment, check! All set? Not so fast! There are other costs associated with buying a home that you’ll want to be aware of well before the time comes. Your down payment could potentially be the largest expense but there is also the earnest money deposit, the home inspection, the appraisal, radon testing, and other expenses you’ll want to talk to your Real Estate Agent and lender about.
When it comes to costs associated with the financing side (in addition to your down payment), you’ll want to check with your lender to find out an estimate on your closing costs and how much you’ll need upfront for homeowners insurance and taxes. You can also see if there are any first-time home buyer programs that may help offset some of these costs. Sometimes, the lender will allow you to ask for a certain percentage in closing cost credits from the seller. Depending on your situation, this is something you could include in your offer to purchase to help offset some of your closing costs. Make sure to discuss these options with both your agent and lender so that you fully understand how they work and how best to use them.
#3: Skipping the Home Inspection – “But I’ll save $500 if I skip it and I’d rather spend that money on new home decor from West Elm!” – Pretend Buyer. Home inspections are not necessarily required in order to purchase a home. So during the transaction it might seem intriguing to some buyers to skip the home inspection and save some extra cash to put towards the home itself. However, I highly, highly, highly (I REPEAT – HIGHLY) advise against skipping the home inspection. Number one, you’re going to want to know about any major issues the home could potentially have. You’ll also want to know about smaller repair items that need to be addressed along with any future maintenance issues to watch out for. A home inspector is there to spot the major red flags that could end up costing you a lot of money if you don’t figure them out before closing. Ask your agent for home inspector recommendations or feel free to do some of your own research. You can use whoever you feel comfortable with as long as they are licensed in your state.
#4: House hunting without a pre-approval – I’m sure you’ve heard this one as your eyes roll back into your head and you think “enough is enough with the pre-approval!” As much as it may sound like a broken record, it is a big deal and you’ll want to know why! For starters, most agents won’t show you a home without a pre-approval letter and most sellers won’t entertain an offer without one either. So if a house comes along that happens to be your dream home and you’re not prepared, you could miss out just because you didn’t take the time to get pre-approved (and trust me, it doesn’t take long).
Lastly, if you haven’t found a lender you want to work with or gotten pre-approved, you may be shopping outside of your budget. You might know what your monthly budget is but there are several other factors taken into consideration besides your paycheck. Have you checked your credit score lately? Do you know your debt to income ratio? What about the various types of loans and what they entail? Some will require higher down payments than others. If you start searching for houses listed for more than what you can actually afford, you’ll set yourself up for disappointment when you realize you can’t buy the house with the awesome home theater you had your heart set on.
If you’re ready to jump into the home buying process right now, make sure you’re avoiding these big mistakes! If you want to discuss this in more detail, feel free to reach out and we can set up a time to grab coffee (your go-to coffee order is on me!) I love teaching buyers about the ins and outs of the home buying process to ensure they have the best experience possible and avoid any mistakes that can throw you for a loop!