Buying your first home can be a roller coaster ride for your emotions. Between finding the right place, securing the loan and finally moving in, many first home buyers make numerous mistakes that are frustrating, painful, and often end up costing money. For most of us, the first time home purchase is the largest investment we’ve ever considered. The emotions of purchasing something so expensive and personal can often cloud our business judgment.
More home purchasers than you’d think do little or no research before they invest their nest egg. Wouldn’t you prefer to be as completely informed as possible before you buy your first home? This article will help you avoid 10 common and critical mistakes many new home buyers make. Additionally, don’t forget that the right real estate professional can help you make good sound business decisions based on your personal situation.
- Inspect, Inspect and Inspect – Go over the inspection report with a fine tooth comb. Make sure the report was done by a professional organization. For condo purchases go over the CC&R’s, By-Laws, and Association Fees. Don’t take anything for granted… inspect everything! If you have a question about any part of your inspection, ask a professional and certainly get a second opinion on anything that seems atypical.
- Imagine the Property Vacant – This is difficult for many home owners especially if the location you are looking at is decorated in a different style or if the walls are painted a strange color. Don’t be swayed by beautiful furniture; it leaves with the owner! Remember that it is your furnishings and decorations will be the ones filling this new residence.
- Income + Lifestyle = Mortgage Payment – Sit down with your professional real estate agent and honestly discuss your income level and living expenses. Planning ahead or at least contemplating future considerations such as children, add-ons, amenities, and fix-ups will help your professional understand your needs. Be realistic about what you can afford. While your dream home is certainly worth a sacrifice you don’t want to give up your entire future.
- View Several Homes – See at least 7-10 properties. Don’t move too slow but don’t move on the first property you see. With your agent’s help you should be able to view enough properties to get a good overall perspective of the home market. When you find the right property all the leg work will be worth it. Don’t jump into a contract if you aren’t sure about the home – properties can’t be returned to a store!
- Utilize Your Group of Professionals – By aligning yourself with the right real estate professional you will have an entire team at your disposal. Utilize your lender, title rep and agent. Each of them should work hand in hand for your benefit. Explore all the options before you sign.
- Ask a Million Questions – Well not literally but make sure to check out all costs and expenses before you sign. Utilities, taxes, insurance, maintenance and home owner dues if applicable. Make sure all utilities (gas, electricity, and water) are on during your walk-through so you can inspect everything in working order (turn on faucets, flush toilets, etc). Be aware of little details and ask lots of questions – even those you may think are obvious.
- Do a Final Walk-Through – Visit the property after all furnishings have been moved out to be sure there are no surprises. Be absolutely positive the property was left exactly as you had agreed upon in the contract. Things that could have been spotted in a final walk-through are often unintentionally overlooked.
- Be Ready to be Flexible – Closing dates are not written in stone. Allow for contingencies and have a back-up plan. If you or the sellers need a little more time to conclude the final arrangements, don’t let these delays upset or frustrate you. Know what your contract says about the people moving in your house and your new home. Are there costs for staying extra days? What about the moving company? These types of circumstances are not uncommon in a real estate transaction so be ready for a change of plans if necessary.
- If It’s Not In Writing, It Doesn’t Exist – All promises and discussions should be in writing. Don’t make any assumptions or believe any assurances. This relates to number 8 above too. Just because the sellers say they will move out on a certain day doesn’t mean they will. Even the best intentions can be misinterpreted. Have your professional keep an ongoing log in writing of all discussions and get the seller’s written approval on all agreements.
- Loyalty Breeds Loyalty – Be open, honest and up front with your team. Hard feelings and disloyalty will cause headaches, delays or may even keep you from getting into the home you worked so hard to locate. Take the time to select the right team in the beginning and your first home purchase will be a pleasing and memorable experience.