9 Mistakes First-Time Home Buyers Make

 

Buying a home is a complicated process, as it should be.  After all, the biggest purchase of your life should probably require necessary measures, time, and “getting all your ducks in a row.”  While it may be understandable that the process of buying a home is intensive, this certainly doesn’t help homebuyers navigate the housing or lending markets.  There are many mistakes that can potentially be made by home buyers, and some, in particular, tend to be made by first-time homebuyers.  Between the stress, misinformation or lack of information, and excitement of buying a first home, there are a lot of errors that can be made along the way.  Assembled here are a number of such examples, in hopes that they may get first-time homebuyers to think about these issues and how they may avoid them.

 

 


Not Attempting to Gain a Better Understanding of the Process

 

No one expects a first-time homebuyer to know the ins and outs of the housing and lending markets and processes.  The first thing a first-time homebuyer should realize is that it is okay that they not know everything; in fact, it’s okay to know nothing at all.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking questions.  Many first-time homebuyers make the mistake of not asking enough questions during the process of buying  home, for a number of reasons.  Being sure about the processes involved in buying a home help to ensure that a Buyer is truly happy with their purchase in the long run.  Actually, one of the best ways for first-time homebuyers to begin the process of buying a home is assembling a list of questions they have for both the real estate agent and the lender. 


Thinking You Can Do It Alone

 

When in doubt of how to complete a certain task, the best thing to do is consult a professional.  The same is true when someone is looking to Buy a home.  Meet with a few real estate agents and see how they suit you.  If one doesn’t quite click with you, there is nothing wrong with moving on to a different agent.  You should feel comfortable and confident in your real estate agent, because they will be helping you through the process.  It will be a lot more enjoyable if you are paired up with someone with whom you feel comfortable.   Your real estate agent can recommend a few lenders for you to contact, so that you can begin determining which of those individuals you will choose to work with.   It is important that you feel confident in your lender and his or her professionalism, trustworthiness, and abilities.  After all, he or she will be helping you finance your biggest investment.

 

Not Making Your Goals Clear

 

When speaking with both your real estate agent and your lender, it is important that you make your goals clear.  While your real estate agent can help you decide which characteristics of a home are most important to you, you need to be honest and open during these conversations.  Your agent will know the right questions to ask you to help you decide what you are looking for, but only if you make it clear that you need help and don’t know where to start.  Your lender needs to know what your financial goals are to help you decide what kind of loan you should be getting, as well as what price range of home you should be looking for.  It’s not just about what you can afford with your income; it’s about what you can afford with your income and other financial goals, such as saving.

 

Failing to Take Saving into Account when Budgeting

 

What you can afford doesn’t simply boil down to what you are comfortable paying each month when considering other expenses.  You should also be considering planning for your future and saving money when determining what you can afford.  Too often, this aspect of a budget is overlooked by first-time homebuyers.


Not Knowing (or Ignoring) What You Can Afford


The excitement of owning a home often overtakes first-time buyers, leading them to neglect assessing what they can afford, as well as what their budget means to what kind of home they will find.  While it’d be nice if our first homes were all our final homes, and we could afford our dream house right off the bat, that’s just not realistic.  Too often first-time buyers get mixed up in their ideas of their “perfect home” and their “perfect for right now” home.


This concept is also important for first-time buyers to consider for a different reason.  Often, buyers who have never owned a home before realize that their budgets are limited and decide that they will purchase a home that needs a lot of work, a “fixer-upper” and make it their own on the cheap.  Assuming that a fixer-upper is cheaper than buying a move-in ready home is naïve and, often, inaccurate.  Even professionals who know what they’re doing can end up sinking a lot of money into a home that needs work.  If you are considering purchasing a fixer-upper as your first home, make a list of all the projects that will need to be done for you to update the home, do a little research, and start weighing the actual costs.  Don’t forget, also, that most of the time, any single project ends up costing more than expected, because projects usually hit snags along the way.


Failing to Acknowledge that Needs/Wants will Change over Time

 

While it is important that buyers consider that their first home will probably not be their forever home, it is also important to realistically analyze how long they think they will be in their house.  A third-floor condo may be great for right now, but if a Buyer is planning on getting a dog in the near future (while they are still planning on being at that residence), they should be considering the two flights of stairs for every trip outside with their dog. 


Becoming Distracted by Over-the-Top Features

 

It may be extremely cool that a house you looked at has a wine cellar or pool in the backyard.  However, if you don’t have the money to ever have the ability to stock that wine cellar, or if you don’t have the money or means to maintain that pool, neither of those features will retain their “cool” factor.  First-time homebuyers often make the mistake of becoming enamored with special features of a home, even if they are impractical or out of the range of what can be afforded.

 

Not Hiring an Inspector


Even if an inspection is not required by your mortgage lender, get one.  Even if the home is being sold as is, get one.  Even if the cost will come our of your pocket, get one.  Regardless of the circumstances, you should make an effort to know what exact home you are purchasing.

 

Changing Finances During the Home Search

 

Your pre-approval or pre-qualification is considered from the current financial situation you were in when you sought it out from your lender.  The numbers will change if your financial situation changes.  Change jobs, and your qualifications change.  Get a car loan, and your qualifications change.  Take out a line of credit to furnish your new house, and your qualifications change.  Make a late payment, and your qualifications change.  It is so very important, during your Home Search and especially during the period of time between signing a contract and closing on a house, that none of your financial situations change. 


Overall, there are so many things that can be done wrong when buying a house.  Without experience in the process, it’s very difficult to know what to do and what not to do.  That’s why it’s so important to learn all you can and be honest with the professionals you are dealing with. 

 

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