Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or have purchased a home before, the same mistakes can rear their head at any point in the buying process. By working closely with your agent, you can identify these pitfalls ahead of time and adjust accordingly. Mistakes in the buying process can lead to higher costs, added stress, and even terminated contracts. Here are ten common mistakes to avoid when buying a home.
10 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a Home
1. Not getting pre-approved
Getting pre-approved is a key component of the early stages of the buying process and will help to maximize your chances of getting your offer accepted. Getting pre-approved will give you a concrete idea of how much you can borrow, how much house you can afford, the estimated monthly costs of your mortgage and its corresponding interest rates. It also communicates to sellers that you are a serious buyer.
2. Not identifying your price range
Pursuing listings you can’t afford is a surefire way to start your home buying process off on the wrong foot. Buying a home that’s outside your budget will put added pressure on your finances and increases your chances of foreclosing, should your financial situation take a turn for the worse. Use the general rule that your house payment should never be more than 25-30% of your take-home pay, and as you prepare for talks with your lender be sure to account for all the expenses you will incur, including private mortgage insurance (PMI) if applicable.
To get an idea of what you can afford, use our free Home Monthly Payment Calculator by clicking the button below. With current rates based on national averages and customizable mortgage terms, you can experiment with different values to get an estimate of your monthly payment for any listing price.
3. Taking on new credit
Opening new lines of credit at any point in the home buying process will slow things down and can affect your chances of getting a home loan. Adding another credit card to your collection or taking out a loan will change your credit score, causing a ripple effect that can bring the buying process to a halt. Because new credit changes your debt-to-income ratio, lenders will likely want to review your mortgage approval and your risk of non-payment. This forces sellers to wait around for your application while competing buyers speed ahead of you in line.
4. Not purchasing adequate homeowner’s insurance
It’s understood that a home is a valuable asset that needs to be protected, but it is still all too common for homeowners to be under-insured. A homeowner’s insurance policy covers your home, your belongings, living expenses and injury or damage to others that occur on the property in the event of a disaster. Work closely with your insurance broker to make sure you have adequate coverage for the most common risks in your area like flood, earthquake, and more.
5. Not looking for other loans
With a little resourcefulness, you can tap into new sources of financial support that will help to ease the burden of making a home purchase. VA Loans can be a lifesaver for active service and veteran personnel, offering zero down payment and lower-than-average mortgage rates. Other government loan programs such as USDA and FHA loans can greatly aid homebuyers with favorable loan terms. Be sure to thoroughly review the qualifications of these loans before applying.
6. Misunderstanding the down payment
When it comes to down payments, it’s not twenty percent or bust. Granted, with a twenty percent down payment your lender won’t require you to purchase mortgage insurance; but even if you’re short, there are a number of alternatives to private mortgage insurance (PMI) available to you, such as Lender-Paid Mortgage Insurance and a piggyback loans strategy. Work with your agent to identify trusted lenders in their network that can help you secure the right loan.
7. Not working with a buyer’s agent
A buyer’s agent will help you to identify which homes you can afford, work with you on formulating a competitive offer and preparing for negotiations with sellers and listing agents. Buyer’s agents will also handle the paperwork when it comes time to close the deal. A home purchase is an intricate transaction with many moving parts and having an experienced professional by your side who can navigate each step is invaluable. Typically, the buyer’s agent splits the commission of the sale with the listing agent, which is paid by the seller, so generally their services come at no additional cost to you.
8. Underestimating repair and remodeling costs
Regardless of whether you’re buying a fixer-upper or a home that needs a few simple upgrades, you can usually expect some repair and remodeling expenses once the home is yours. Before you start swinging hammers or tearing up drywall, take time to assess the scope of the projects and whether you can do them yourself or need a professional. Talk with your agent about which remodeling projects have the highest resale value for comparable homes in your area.
9. Buying a home without an inspection
Buying a home without having it inspected opens the buyer up to added risk. Without a home inspection, you forego the ability to negotiate repairs and concessions with the seller. Getting a home inspection is a small investment and alerts you of any potential home disasters that may be on the horizon. However, this mistake comes with an aside. In a seller’s market where a high number of buyers are competing for a limited number of available listings, waiving the inspection contingency is a common tactic for buyers looking to make their offer stand out. Work with your agent to figure out what’s best for you and your situation.
10. Forgetting about moving costs
It’s easy to get so focused on the purchase of the home that you forget about what it will cost to move there. Moving expenses can add up quickly, especially if you’ll be traveling across state lines or across the country. If you’re buying and selling a home at the same time, there’s also the question of where you’ll live in between closing on your current home and closing on your new one. If these costs aren’t accounted for, you can quickly be over budget before you set foot in your new home.
For more information on the buying process and how to find the right home, connect with an experienced, local Windermere agent.