House Hunting Mistakes – Don’t Risk Losing Your Dream Home
Unless you’ve been through the process before, you may think that starting the hunt for a new home is as easy as clicking through a few websites and cruising neighborhoods for “For Sale” signs. Although potential home buyers do realize the importance of the task at hand, and don’t expect it to be an easy decision, some of the most important “down in the weeds” details you need to cover before you can move ahead get lost in the excitement of the moment. Once you’ve decided to jump into home ownership, you need to fully commit to the process in order to reach your goal. The team at Ernest Homes is ready to help – our “NOT to do list” will get you on track from the word “GO!”
Don’t Underestimate the Commitment Required
The average home buyer will tour at least ten houses over ten weeks before making a decision. While it isn’t impossible for you to find your perfect match right out of the gate, the vast majority of shoppers who ultimately buy a home will make it a priority in their lives for at least a few months. This investment may seem a bit daunting at first, but most buyers end up in their home for an average of 13 years before they move again. If you weigh the time you spend shopping against the final result, you’ll see the benefit of not jumping into a decision of convenience.
Don’t Skip the “Money Talk”
It’s a common mistake – you start looking before you get your financing ducks in a row. There are two important reasons to cover this base before you begin your search; you need to know what you can afford and you must get a mortgage pre-approval before you start to look at homes. Sit down with your bills, savings and money goals for the future and have an honest talk about what you can put down on your home, what your monthly payment needs to be, and what maintenance costs you’re likely to face over the next decade. Owning a home is a marathon, not a sprint. You need to make sure you’re in the right place financially to make the necessary commitment. Once you have your financial plan - with the paperwork to back it up – visit a lender to obtain the necessary pre-approval for a mortgage. This step is critical. In today’s real estate market, a letter of pre-approval from a lender is usually required to put in an offer. Without this promise of available financing, it’s likely you won’t be taken as a serious buyer when you’re ready to make your move.
Don’t Wing It
Make a list of your needs and wants, and make sure to know which is which. How many bedrooms to you need? Do you want a bonus room for a home office or a guest room? How often do you cook and eat at home, and how much entertaining do you do? Are you going to have children, or will your kids be going out on their own soon? Do you want a large lawn, or do you dread yard work? How many cars will you need to park? Once you’ve created your lists, make sure each house you tour meets all of your needs and gives you at least a few items from your wish list. Don’t waste time on homes that won’t check off your boxes.
Don’t Ignore the Neighborhood
If you’re considering a house, make sure to tour the neighborhood as well. Are the surrounding homes occupied and well cared for? What are the speed limits on local roads? Is the noise level where you want it to be? Is there an active neighborhood watch? Do neighbors seem to mingle, or do families keep to themselves? Will you be near work, schools, shopping and entertainment? You may find your dream home, but it isn’t for you if it’s in a nightmare neighborhood.
Don’t Encourage Comments from the Peanut Gallery
While it may be tempting to get opinions from people who are close to you, keep the list of people who shop with you to a minimum. Those who will live in the house get a vote, but feedback from others tends to be skewed to their own situations. They may love the huge windows and the lush carpets, but are they going to be cleaning and vacuuming them? While fresh eyes may notice important flaws and bring up questions you haven’t thought to ask, they may also discourage you from moving on the right property for you based solely on their own bias. Remember it’s your home, your wallet and your investment, and ultimately only you can make the choice.
Don’t Hesitate to Bring in an Expert
Another rookie mistake is thinking that you can tackle this massive undertaking without professional help. Involving a real estate agent can supercharge your search by adding an important layer of expertise to your search. The right agent will hunt down homes that meet your criteria, are within your budget and have the location you want. He or she will also be among the first to know when new homes are about to come on the market and may have access to private sales that may not be publicized. An agent can also help you avoid costly mistakes during the negotiation process. Most sellers will have an agent watching their back, so you’ll want to have someone in your corner as well.
We’ve covered some of the possible pitfalls you’ll need to watch for in the early days of your house hunting adventure, but what happens when you’re ready to make an offer? There are other mistakes you don’t want to make when you’re entering the homestretch, and we’ll go over those in our next post!