Common Mistakes People Commit When Buying a Home

02/14/2017 12:24 pm ET Updated Feb 23, 2017

When buying a home, many prospective homeowners make mistakes that cause problems later. Before signing contracts and moving in, there are several things every home buyer can do to limit the number and complexity of potential problems frequently encountered when purchasing a home. While some things are common sense, others are not. Avoiding a few common home buyer mistakes can eliminate the possibility of experiencing problems later. Here are a few common errors buyers make.

Not Taking the Time to Do Your Research

What, on the surface, looks like a great deal may not be. When deciding which home to purchase, it pays to carefully analyze the home’s neighborhood to ensure it meets the family’s needs. That’s not always a huge problem when home buyers are familiar with the area and its various communities, but anyone who is moving into a new town won’t have that advantage. A first time home buyer may also have to be extra careful, as they may not be aware of unique situations in particular neighborhoods that could mar the home owning experience. Online as well as local sources provide a plethora of information on specific communities. Ask your Realtor if you’re unsure of where to find the much-needed information.

The next research is of a more personal nature. Before deciding to buy a home, explore all the options for home loans before deciding on a source of financing. Again, real estate agents know what types of home financing are offered for homes in their service areas, but don’t limit your search to only sources they recommend. Take the time to explore options available from all lenders in the area. Don’t make the mistake of only responding to the first offer of financing, at it may well not be the best option available.

Not Getting Pre-Approved for Financing

Virtually every real estate industry expert recommends being pre-approved for a mortgage loan before shopping for a home. Doing so provides a realistic picture of your actual buying power, but spending the maximum amount approved may not be the best choice for home buyers. Home buyers are encouraged to review their finances carefully before signing a purchase agreement to ensure they’re not entering into an agreement that will tax their financial capacity later.

Remember, there’s more involved in owning a home than simply making a monthly mortgage payment. The homeowner must make repairs and improvements and, when buyers are already stretched thin just making the monthly payment, there may not be enough money to make those much-needed improvements. Even buying a new vehicle can get more complicated if too much is spent on the home, as the total monthly budget may not be capable of absorbing another payment. Don’t make the mistake of overbuying, as doing so can make other areas of life harder to deal with.

Buying the First Property that Meets Your Needs

While the real estate agent may find a home that meets your needs, including features you didn’t expect to get, buying the first property you look at is often a mistake. In most communities, there are quite a few homes available with similar, if not more attractive, features. It’s always important to get a feel for what’s available in a given area before making any buying decisions. Buying the first home that will meet your needs may mean you miss out on an even better opportunity.

Not Getting a Complete Home Inspection

Sellers are good at making even less-desirable homes look quite beautiful. However, good looks aren’t everything. The home’s structure, plumbing, and electricity all need to be carefully inspected by a qualified, experienced home inspector. Most home buyers don’t have the ability to spot defects that can detract from their home purchase experience. That’s why top real estate agents will always recommend buyers have a home inspected as a contingency of the acquisition. Again, don’t just hire the first inspector suggested by a real estate agent. Do a little homework and find an inspector who has the experience and credentials to provide a quality, thorough inspection.

Of course, there are many other potential home buyer mistakes, but by approaching the transaction in a business-like manner rather than an emotional one will go a long way toward minimizing the potential for making serious errors. Start by contacting a real estate agent in the neighborhood you’re considering and asking questions. Then, move on to getting pre-approved by a lender. Only when those steps are taken can you start to seriously look for that place you’d like to call home.

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