Your home is probably the largest investment you’ll ever make. The process of buying a home can feel overwhelming at times. With more than 40 years of real estate experience under our belts, we wanted to share five mistakes to avoid when buying a home. The more prepared you are for your home search, the more successful you’ll be!
Mistake #1: Not fully considering the importance of location
It’s easy to fixate on all the amenities you want in your home… Open floor plan, granite countertops, hardwood floors, sparkly new appliances, etc. You might find all these wonderful things in a house that isn’t in the best location for your lifestyle. Try not to be so dazzled by the home’s amenities that you neglect to consider its location. Remember, you can always change a house, but you can never change its location!
Do your legwork to be sure a particular location is right for you. Visit the neighborhood at different times of day. The area may be quiet and peaceful during the day, but loud and raucous at night. That’s something you want to know before you buy the house.
Mistake #2: Thinking short-term
If you plan on moving again in just a couple of years, buying a home may not make financial sense. There are closing costs and moving costs that can add up quickly when buying a new house. If you’re in your home for only a short time, you may not be able to recover these costs.
It’s also important to consider how your lifestyle will change over the years. If you hope to be in your house for a long time, you need to look ahead five or ten years – or more – to what your needs will be. Will there be enough space for a growing family? If you’ve always wanted to get a dog, does this house have a good yard? If you think you may be working from home in the future, is there space for an office?
Life can be unpredictable and none of us know for sure what will happen years from now. But if you have some clear goals or ideas about what your life may be like in the future, take that into consideration when choosing a home.
Mistake #3: Shopping without understanding your finances
Doing a deep-dive into your finances should happen at the very beginning of your home search. You need to fully understand your finances and what you can comfortably afford to spend on your new home. If you wait to do this, you risk falling in love with homes that are outside your price range.
It’s also important to get pre-qualified for a loan as soon as you’re serious about your home search. This will put you in a strong position to make an offer as soon as you find the right house.
Mistake #4: Overspending on Your Home Purchase
It’s really important to stick with your budget and only purchase a home you can comfortably afford. Again, don’t be so dazzled by amenities that you throw your budget out the window. If you overspend, you’re going to feel stretched financially every single month, and you may grow to resent your home. That’s a terrible way to feel!
If you can’t get everything on your wish list within your budget, that’s okay. Keep in mind that you can make upgrades to your home over time. In fact, making changes later will let you customize everything to your tastes and lifestyle.
Mistake #5: Skipping the home inspection
Never, ever skip a home inspection! An inspection costs a few hundred dollars, and it can be awfully tempting to forgo it and pocket that money instead. BIG mistake. An inspection will reveal problems with the house you need to be aware of before you own it. If a mistake is uncovered, the inspection will save you thousands of dollars. Either you can choose to walk away from the purchase at that point, or you can use the problem to negotiate for a lower price.
Depending on the property you’re considering, you may need additional inspections. If it’s an older home in a rural area, you may want to have the septic system inspected. A failing septic system is expensive to replace, so that’s something to be aware of before closing. It’s also a good idea to have a pool professionally inspected.
In summary, you’ll be successful if you balance the financial and emotional considerations of buying a home.
Buying a home is both a business transaction and a very personal and emotional process. That can be tricky to navigate. But if you have a budget and a plan from the very beginning, it will be easier to stay on track.