Buying your first home can be one of the most joyful — or the most stressful — moments of your life. If you think you’ve found the home of your dreams, don’t get ahead of yourself. As a first-time homebuyer, you need to prepare for the purchase of a home well before you start looking for one.
Here are 5 common first-time homebuyer mistakes, and my advice for avoiding them:
- Neglecting to line up your financing before you find your dream house. Your initial step as a first-time homebuyer is to educate yourself on the basics of property financing, which will help you become a viable buyer in a home seller’s eyes. Talk with a variety of lenders to determine how much house you can afford. Ask about all loan options. Are there assistance programs you qualify for? Do you know how to compare mortgage rates? It’s worth looking online at less well-known lenders who may have attractive packages for first-time homebuyers. Some may even pay a portion of your closing costs. Know your options.
- Shopping only online. Instagram and Zillow are terrific places to identify what you want in a home. However, aspiring homeowners should visit several homes in person before settling on the one that most closely matches their needs. Online listings and Instagram show homes in the best possible light, so it’s important to see properties in person multiple times before you make an offer. The best way to envision what it’s like to live in a home is to spend time inside it.
- Overestimating your appetite for renovations. Renovations almost always take longer than you plan for, especially if you are buying a fixer-upper. Be honest with yourself: how much time and effort are you willing to devote to remodeling? Location used to dictate everything in the home sale process, but some buyers today are focused on condition, condition, condition. Decide if you can sacrifice more on location if you prefer not to do any renovations.
- Purchasing without professional help. Some first-time homebuyers think they can handle the process themselves or use the seller’s agent. Wrong! The seller’s agent is loyal to the seller. A buyer’s agent protects your interests and has a fiduciary responsibility to do so. Experienced real estate professionals have handled a multitude of transactions. They know how to get the best price, they know how to find a home to meet your needs (often before they come on the market!) and they are there to guide you every step of the way. You may be leaving money on the table if you do not work with a buyer’s agent to find, purchase, and close on a home.
- Skipping the home inspection. Home inspections are not required when buying a house, but it would be a mistake to skip having one done. If the home has deficiencies, you as the homebuyer would be responsible after the purchase. So, hire an inspector to uncover any issues with a home’s structure and systems, from the roof all the way down to the foundation. The inspector will assess heating and air conditioning, sprinkler, and plumbing systems, and check for water damage, environmental issues, and electrical problems. You want to buy a home that has no major deficiencies. Any problems your inspector uncovers should be easily fixable or negotiable.
It’s best to approach buying a home as a process of discovery: learning how and where you want to live and how to make it happen. I’d be happy to help!
Call me at 914-414-5147 for a free consultation.