Buying a home can be both exciting and overwhelming. If you’ve decided to take the plunge into homeownership and have already started the search process, make sure you’re not making some common first-time homebuyer mistakes.
Here are three mistakes first time home buyers need to avoid:
1. Searching for the dream home before getting pre-qualified for a loan. Save yourself the disappointment of not being able to afford the home of your dreams by getting pre-qualified for your loan before you start house hunting. Instead of picking out a price range and searching listings, take the time to talk to a lender about how much house you can realistically afford and what the monthly payment breakdown – with all taxes and other fees included – will be. The amount you are pre-approved for will help you create a realistic budget for your home search. Besides, in today’s market, home sellers will not accept an offer without a pre-approval from your lender.
2. Not using an experienced Realtor. Sure, it’s possible to go out and buy a home without the aid of a professional real estate agent. But think about how much time and stress a good agent can save you. For starters, Realtors have access to all the homes on the market through the multiple listing service, or MLS, plus all the ones that are under contract and have been sold. A specialist will sift through all of these listings, and make the appointments to show you the houses, create comparative market analyses to determine proper pricing, and meet with necessary inspectors. Real estate agents also can help buyers understand a taxing, 70-page legal contract. You would want someone who is going to look out for your best interests first and foremost. Someone who knows the contracts, who has experience negotiating, and who can walk with you through the entire process smoothly—step by step—and make sure you get the house that’s right for you.
3. Not researching the neighborhood. You may have found your dream home, but the neighborhood’s a nightmare. Or you may have children or are planning to have children in the near future, but you didn’t consider the quality of the school districts or parks in the vicinity. You should ask yourself a number of questions during your home search, such as “Are there good schools nearby?” and “Do I feel safe coming home at night?” Although I know my neighborhoods extremely well, only you can answer those questions.