Buying a home can be exciting, but you don’t want to rush into it. Making simple errors while going about the home-buying process can cause a lot of stress—both emotional and financial—for years to come.
So, take some time to educate yourself about the common mistakes homebuyers make and your own home-buying experience will more likely be successful and exciting:
1. Going Over Budget
Don’t borrow more than you can comfortably afford. For example, don’t get a 15-year mortgage with high monthly payments when a 30-year mortgage will give you more wiggle room. Otherwise, you’ll be strapped for money and unable to save as much as you want. A rule of thumb: Total monthly debts, including your mortgage, should not exceed 43% of your total pretax income.
To figure out if you are getting a good deal, do a comparable market analysis through a REALTOR®. Figure in other costs, such as agent costs, escrow fees, title and homeowners insurance, property taxes, legal costs, notary fees and closing costs.
2. Using the Wrong Agent
Avoid dealing with a dishonest or unqualified real estate agent by selecting an agent who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS®. They work as licensed, independent contractors through real estate firms and are governed by strict regulatory guidelines.
Interview a few REALTORS® and pick the one you feel best represents your needs.
3. Not Loan Shopping
Shop around for the best rate. Don’t go with the first one a bank offers you. A mortgage broker can help with this process, but you can also shop around on your own.
4. Banking on Pre-Approval
Just because you’ve been pre-approved doesn’t absolutely mean the mortgage is yours. If your financial situation is called into question during the underwriting process, your lender can refuse to give you the loan. That includes taking out new loans after being pre-approved or switching jobs. They will run your credit, bank and income statements again, so be prepared to answer any questions about discrepancies they might find.
5. Only Loving the House
Your new house doesn’t exist in a vacuum. If you don’t like the block or the town where the house is located, you’re asking for trouble. You won’t be happy there and you’ll have a hard time reselling the property if the neighborhood isn’t good.
Do your research by visiting the area during different times of the day and week. Observe what the neighborhood is like after dark and on weekends. Notice if your street is congested during rush hour. Are the neighbors noisy? Are these the kind of kids you want your children to befriend? Ask yourself if the standard of living most closely represents yours.
6. Ignoring Inspections
Don’t skimp on home inspections when buying a house, even if it adds to the cost. Hire a certified inspector who will thoroughly check the electrical and plumbing systems, heating and air conditioning, roof and walls, foundation and structure, drainage, garage and basement.
You should also inspect your potential property for radon, asbestos, mold, lead, insects and pests. Ask your REALTOR® if he or she can recommend a trusted inspector.