Buying a home is a very exciting time. Whether it’s your first purchase, your third, or your tenth, there are many aspects to the process, and it is vital to know what to expect. After working with many buyers, I have learned which mistakes are most common.
1. Not getting a pre-qualification letter from a reputable lender first.
This is a critical first step in the process. I’m always shocked to hear about buyers shopping without a budget. There are two reasons this is so important. First, buyers who begin shopping without knowing exactly what they can afford are oftentimes setting themselves up for disappointment. It is much better to have a clear understanding of your budget (including what monthly payment you’re comfortable with) before you fall in love with a home. Secondly, in a hot market, properties sell very quickly. When you have a pre-qualification letter ready to go, you are in an ideal position to submit an offer first, instead of potentially losing the house to a buyer who is prepared. Also, remember that not all lenders are created equally, so asking for a personal referral to a great lender is key.
2. Not hiring a buyer’s agent – it’s free!
Having an agent working only for you (and not for the seller, as well) means you have an ally who will negotiate fiercely to make sure you’re protected. A great agent will also guide you through the process, tell you what to expect, advise you, and handle any issues that come up – and trust me, issues will come up! The best part is that the seller pays the buyer’s agent. The buyer does not pay for the services of an agent, so why would anyone choose to buy a house on their own?
3. Not keeping the big picture in mind.
It can be difficult to keep the big picture in mind during the buying process, but at times it is necessary to take a step back and remember what is most important. To give an example, one buyer almost lost their chosen home over an issue worth less than $100. During negotiations, tensions can run high, and it would be a shame to lose a home over such a small issue. Buyers who do not lose perspective during the process tend to have a more successful, stress-free experience.
4. Don’t not second guess your choice.
It is very easy to wonder if there is another, better house out there just waiting to come on the market. Some buyers find it difficult to trust their instincts after they have made an offer on a house. While this is perfectly natural, buyers who allow these thoughts to prohibit them from moving forward will only incur pain in the long run. It’s like getting married – if you cannot commit for fear there’s someone better waiting around the corner, you will be single forever! In real estate, this translates to being a lifetime tenant, never building equity, and never building long-term wealth.
5. Not getting a home inspection.
Unless you are an experienced home inspector yourself, it is imperative that you have a home inspection performed. Even if a house is sold “as is,” and the seller will not agree to make any repairs, it is always important to have a home inspection performed. It is equally important to make sure you use a highly recommended inspector. A great home inspector will not only find all the major and minor problems with the house, he will also teach buyers about the home’s heating and electrical systems. Additionally, he will explain which issues are major, scary, expensive, or that are small and easy-to-fix.
Ashley Harwood is an experienced Realtor with Keller Williams Realty. Her degree in English and background in luxury retail make her well-suited to provide exceptional customer service and consistent communication to her clients. Ashley works with both buyers and sellers, and she specializes in helping young professionals find the right home. She works out of Westborough, MA and through her referral partners at Keller Williams, she is able to help buyers and sellers in all parts of the country.