Buying a house, especially as a first time home buyer, is both an overwhelming and exciting experience. For many Marylanders, a home is the single most expensive item they ever purchase, not to mention that the item in question is a place where families grow and make lasting memories. With so much at stake and so many emotions involved, it can be helpful to learn from other homebuyers before exploring your own real estate options. Take care to avoid these top 5 mistakes when shopping for your own dream home:
Not Keeping a Realistic Budget in Mind
Your home should reflect your needs and even as many of your wants as possible, but it’s still important to keep your finances in mind while house hunting. The easiest way to do this is to only search for properties within your price range. You should also determine how much of a downpayment you can afford before you browse the listings. Sticking to a budget will keep you from falling in love with a house that you can’t afford and from trying to stretch yourself too thin financially. If you buy a house that suits your finances, you’ll be much less likely to regret your purchase.
Not Getting Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
Before you put in an offer on a home, it’s best to already be pre-approved for financing. With a pre-approval, you not only have concrete knowledge about what you can afford, but you also walk into a potential sale with the financing already in hand.
Before you seek out financing, though, it’s a good idea to take a hard look at your (and your spouse’s) credit score. A solid credit rating is essential for the best rates. Look at mortgage products from several lenders and, once pre-approved, try not to make any other major purchases or apply for any new lines of credit until the mortgage is finalized. If your credit score changes too much before you close on the house, your final approval could be seriously affected.
Not Evaluating Everything About the House
Since buying a house is such an emotional process, it’s easy for homebuyers to have on rose-colored glasses while house hunting. For example, you might tour a gorgeous home that has all of the bells and whistles, but is missing some of the things that you actually wanted in your new home, like an extra bedroom, a second bathroom, or a large backyard. If you make a purchase based solely on the updated look or fancy style of a home, you risk feeling buyer’s remorse a few months out from the purchase.
Of course, you also don’t want to be so focused on easily fixable things, like disliked paint colors or outdated home fixtures, that you overlook an otherwise excellent fit. When shopping for a home, the important thing to remember is balance. Really examine everything about the home, including what you think you realistically can and cannot fix, before making a buying decision. Get information on the home’s maintenance or any needed repairs, too. You also don’t want to forget to consider the neighborhood, nearby schools, or other aspects of the area that are important to you and your family.
Not Working with a Realtor
Working with a Realtor is the most common way to buy a home, and for good reason. You can trust your Realtor to find and negotiate the best place for you at the best cost. Realtors have the experience and know-how to guide you through the complicated terminology, contracts, and finances of homebuying. Your Realtor can even offer you unique insight into neighborhoods and properties that go beyond what you can find on your own with an Internet search. Partnering with a Realtor is one of the most valuable steps that you can take as a homebuyer.
Not Getting the Offer Timing or Price Right
Just as you need to be balanced when deciding on a house, you also need to be balanced when it comes time to make an offer. Waiting too long or placing an offer too quickly can both backfire. Placing too high of a bid in a hopeful attempt to secure the house of your dreams also isn’t the best decision. This is one of those times when a real estate agent can help advise you on just the right moves.
Ready to Buy?
The team at VSells & Associates has decades of combined experience in the Baltimore-area market. We’re ready to work with you to find your ideal property. View our listings and contact us today to begin the exciting journey toward a new home.