By: Vicki Walker
Buying a Home can sometimes seem to be a daunting task, filled with details and pitfalls. It’s hard to remember everything as you are going through the process, but if you can avoid the following seven common mistakes you will come out way ahead.
1) Not Getting Pre-Qualified
This is the step you take before you even start looking at homes, and it will make your life so much easier. Start your home search by visiting a lender. They will ask specific questions about your income, bank accounts, debt, etc. and will help you determine how much home you can afford to buy. Stick within the limits they set for you and you will be much happier in future years. Their guidance is an important first step on the path to home ownership.
2) Thinking There is Only One Perfect Home For You
Buying a home is usually a process of elimination. You have a list of “must haves” and “want to haves”, and “definitely don’t wants”. There are a limited number of homes currently for sale in the area you have chosen. Often times you can’t get everything you want in one home, so you must trade-off and balance some of these “haves”, “wants”, and “don’t wants”.
New properties come on the market every day, so try to be flexible and open to new possibilities. By eliminating the homes that don’t work, you get down to picking the best of the “possibles”. Don’t worry, you often end up finding a house that is just right for you,and you’ll know it the minute you walk in.
3) Not Knowing the Total Costs Involved
When you find homes you like, ask your lender for an estimate of closing costs. This should include Title Company fees, Pre-paid expenses like taxes, insurance and pro-rated mortgage interest. Attorney fees and Homeowners Association dues may also need to be taken into account. Examine this Estimate closely and make sure you understand where each cost is coming from and whether it will be an ongoing cost after you own the home, or a one-time fee. Check the actual Closing cost statement at settlement to make sure there are no surprises.
4) Not Having a Home Inspection
Some buyers try to save a few bucks by not having a whole house inspection or by doing it themselves. Saving money today this way could end up costing you thousands in the future.
Get a qualified Home Inspector to go over the entire house, inside and out, basement and attic. His report will call out all deficiencies and suggest repairs and further action. The findings in the report may also give you leverage you can use in the negotiations with the seller.
5) Not Considering Long Term Needs
It is important to think ahead. Is your family growing? You may need more home 3-5 years from now. That “cute breakfast nook” of today will not be so cute when six people are bumping knees trying to squeeze into it. Will this home suit you in the future, or will you grow out of it.
6) Not Following Through on Due Diligence
Make a list of non-house related issues – Schools, crime rates, neighbors, traffic, power lines, new development in the area, environmental issues, etc. Ask these questions before you make any offer on a home. By getting these answers now, you’ll have more confidence in your home purchase.
7) Not Buying a Home Protection Plan
This is an inexpensive short term insurance policy on the home, usually covering appliances and basic repairs for one year. It can be purchased for a small fee and will give you peace of mind about that dishwasher or water heater going bad just three weeks after you move in – every home buyers nightmare. Talk to your Realtor, they can recommend a good plan.
If you can avoid the seven common mistakes above, you’ll be miles ahead, and can have peace of mind that you are making a solid, well thought out decision about the purchase of your next home. What’s the old saying…..”An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”? Never has it been so true as in the home buying process.