If you are considering buying a new home, these 12 Home Buyer Tips will help you avoid making mistakes. Owning your own home is the single largest investment most people make, so it pays to do your homework and avoid these pitfalls. Incorporate these buyer tips into your next home purchase:
1. Thinking you can do it yourself. Successful business people always form a team around them. You need a team of professionals around you, from your Realtor®, your Loan Officer, your Building Inspector, and so forth. It's great to research your own information, but then vet it with professionals who are in the trenches daily and can keep you informed as to market trends and what is really the right purchase price and location for you. Be sure you select an agent whom you feel comfortable with and trust.
2. Selecting your Loan Officer because they quote the cheapest interest rate. When comparing lenders and their closing costs, be sure you are looking at Good Faith Estimates that compare 'apples to apples' - in other words, the same closing costs. Some lenders will quote a low interest rate but have very high lender fees, so the lender with the higher interest rate might actually be cheaper. Be sure you pay attention to the APR (Annual Percentage Rate) which will disclose the true cost of the loan. It is risky to try a lender that doesn't have a track record with anyone you know.
There are some unscrupulous lenders (some on the internet) who promise very low rates, than switch them just prior to closing, saying "that program is no longer available." It is wise to choose a lender who has a good reputation for honesty and integrity and who can actually fund the loan, not just quote a rate.
3. Believing there is only one perfect house out there. This is where the 80/20 rule comes in. If you can find a house that has 80% of what you are looking for, buy it! Only if you build a house and money is no object, will you ever find 100% of what you want. Consider what you need in a house and demand that. Structural options are more important than cosmetic. Location trumps everything. You can always add wood flooring later, but that third bathroom will be hard to install.
4. Making an offer on a home without being pre-qualified. Does anybody do this anymore? This seems self-explanatory - if you don't know how much house you can afford, then you're not ready to make an offer.
5. Not having a home inspection and wood destroying organism inspection. This is the best money you will spend in the whole transaction. Selecting the most thorough inspectors can save you money down the road. Sellers usually pay for repairs when you are buying a home, but later it will be your expense. If there are extra inspections you can do, take advantage of this time to find out everything you can about the house.
Can you see yourself up on this roof and do you even know what he is doing?
6. Not buying a home warranty insurance plan. The Sellers usually pay for this. We have always gotten our money's worth on every one we have bought. This is prudent for Buyers, especially first time homebuyers.
7. Not considering long term needs. Is the home large enough for an expanding family? Will it be too large in a couple of years? Does the location work for school for the children for the long term? Will the commute distance work if you change jobs? Will the house be relatively easy to sell? (provided it is well maintained) Buying the smaller house in a better neighborhood will be better in the long run than the same house in a smaller home neighborhood just because it has upgrades.
8. Making any change in your financial situation - job, purchases, credit, etc. Do not change jobs. Do not resign from your job. Do not make any large purchases. Do not open any credit cards. Check with your loan officer for other glitches that could cause your loan to be denied. Just don't make any changes and don't buy anything except groceries and other normal purchases. DO NOT DO ANYTHING THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR DEBT-TO-INCOME RATIO.
9. Not knowing the total costs involved in buying a home. If you've been an apartment dweller, consider the cost of keeping up with a lawn (buying a mower or hiring a yard service), utility costs, property taxes and other taxes, and possible upcoming maintenance. It's no fun to buy a home and be 'house poor' where you can't enjoy life because the house is eating up every extra dollar you have. Also, homeowners insurance costs and coverage are important to know. Make sure you have proper coverage, not just the cheapest insurance.
10. Limiting your search to the internet, magazine and newspaper ads, or open houses. This goes back to #1 where a strong professional comes in. Take advantage of your real estate agent who can find homes that you may not have considered. Realize that often people buy houses that are not at all what their original search criteria was.
11. Not following through on due diligence. When there are questions, it is up to the buyer and their agent to follow through. It is important to know where roads are going through, what really is behind that conservation and is that really conservation or could houses be built behind it? Are there zoning issues that need to be addressed?
12. Renting when buying a home is more affordable. Do the math. For many people, they actually come out ahead buying a home. Consider the tax advantages of homeownership, as well as the satisfaction that having your own place brings. Our son's kindergarten teacher (husband was college professor) owned a beach home, as well as their home in town. When we visited, she confided that when they were in graduate school, they were the only ones who owned a home and that if they hadn't owned a home then, they would not be able to afford the beach home they owned today.
So do your homework, find your area of town, and focus in on what criteria are most important. Find a Realtor(r) whom you feel comfortable with and a Loan Office whom you trust, and get ready for the excitement of your new home!
13. BAKER'S DOZEN! Location, Location, Location. Do not buy a home without giving serious thought to the location. It's one of the oldest and truest sayings in real estate. Why is it so important? In today's market, location can make the difference between a home selling or not. Homes on crummy lots sit and sit. The only way they will sell is to practically give them away. Homes in marginal neighborhoods will not sell. When there are many houses to choose from, inferior locations lose out every time.
HAPPY HOUSE HUNTING! If there is anything we can help you with, give us a call! We are ready to help you with your Move Up or First Home Purchase. Use these 12 Buyer Tips for a successful purchase when you buy your next home.