MISTAKE #1 – Choosing a real estate agent who is not committed to forming a strong business relationship with you
HERE’S HOW TO AVOID IT: Making a connection with the right real estate agent is crucial. Choose a professional who is dedicated to serving your needs—before, during and after the sale.
MISTAKE #2 – Making an offer on a home without being pre-qualified
HERE’S HOW TO AVOID IT: Pre-qualification will make your life easier—take the time to talk with bank or mortgage representatives. Their specific questions with regard to income, debt and other factors will help you determine the price range that you can afford. It is one of the most important steps on the path to home ownership.
MISTAKE #3 – Not knowing the total costs involved
HERE’S HOW TO AVOID IT: Early in the buying process, ask your real estate agent or mortgage representative for an estimate of closing costs. Title insurance and lawyer fees should be considered. Pre-pay responsibilities such as fees and insurance must also be taken into account. Remember to examine your settlement statement prior to closing. [I would also factor in the ongoing costs, like property taxes, utilities and yard maintenance]
MISTAKE #4 – Limiting your search to open houses, ads or the Internet
HERE’S HOW TO AVOID IT: Many homes listed in magazines or on the Internet have already been sold. Your best course of action is to contact a real estate agent. They have up-to-date information that is unavailable to the general public, and they are the best resource to help you find the home you want.
MISTAKE #5 – Thinking that there is only one perfect home out there
HERE’S HOW TO AVOID IT: Buying a home is a process of elimination, not selection. New properties arrive on the market daily, so be open to all possibilities. Ask your real estate agent for a comparative market analysis. This compares similar homes that have recently sold or are still for sale.
MISTAKE #6 – Not considering long-term needs
HERE’S HOW TO AVOID IT: It is important to think ahead. Will your home suit your needs 3–5 years from now? How about in 5–10 years?
MISTAKE #7 – Not following through on due diligence
HERE’S HOW TO AVOID IT: Make a list of any concerns you have relating to issues such as crime rates, schools, power lines, neighbors, environmental conditions, etc. Ask the important questions before you make an offer on a home. Be diligent so that you can have confidence in your purchase.
MISTAKE #8 – Not having a home inspection
HERE’S HOW TO AVOID IT: Trying to save money today can end up costing you tomorrow. A qualified home inspector will detect issues that many buyers can overlook.
MISTAKE #9 – Not examining insurance issues
HERE’S HOW TO AVOID IT: Purchase adequate insurance. Advice from an insurance agent can provide you with answers to any concerns you may have.
MISTAKE #10 – Not purchasing a home protection plan
HERE’S HOW TO AVOID IT: This is essentially a mini insurance policy that usually lasts one year from the date of sale. It usually covers basic repairs you may encounter and can be purchased for a nominal fee. Talk to your agent to help you find the protection plan you need.
If you keep the above tips, in mind you should have a much more smoother and trouble-free home buying experience. You will also more than likely visit a number of homes during your search, and the following bonus tips for will make the overall selection process easier:
- Take pictures with your phone to every house you visit
- Start each tour with a shot of the address plaque so you can easily identify each home later.
- Take notes during each home visit. Record any notable features, architecture and design elements. List what changes you would make and what details really stand out.
- You will especially want to write down your first impressions of each home.
- Pay attention to the home’s surroundings. Generally, avoid the most upgraded home on the block. Is it in a friendly neighborhood? Will parking be an issue? Is it a good area to walk your dog or have an outdoor get together? Is it in a good school district?
- Visit homes that you were interested in again a few days later at a different time of the day. You may notice some nuances you missed earlier.
Good luck on making the best and biggest investment decision of your life!