So you’re a first-time home buyer and finding the right home for you and your family can be overwhelming and stressful. There is a multitude of decisions to make and multiple houses to tour. Before you start looking, make sure you’re not committing one of these classic first-time buyer mistakes.
1. Not knowing what you can afford to buy
If you haven’t been pre-approved, don’t go shopping. Understand the math of your future home loan or mortgage and know what you’ll qualify for – this will stop you from looking at homes or neighborhoods that are beyond your financial reach. Be aware that pre-qualifications are not the same as pre-approvals. So make sure you know what you can afford with an official pre-approval notice. If you need information on local lenders, I can do that too!
2. Ignoring the additional costs
Although you may be used to paying rent and utilities, there are more monthly and annual expenses when you own your own home associated with home ownership. Some costs are easy to calculate prior to home ownership like property taxes, homeowner’s insurance or even homeowner’s association (HOA) fees. But there is a multitude of unforeseen additional costs like emergency repairs or replacements. Along with regular maintenance costs, first-time home buyers should have a clear understanding of just how much it might cost to own and operate the home each month. You can ask for a list of average utilities when you find a home you like.
3. Thinking a fixer-upper is easy and cheap
I hear this a lot… “We are ok with a fixer-upper, we can do the work ourselves.” Making cosmetic changes like painting walls, replacing the front door or refinishing floors are fairly easy and inexpensive. But all too often, first-time home buyers see a home as having unlimited potential without understanding how much it might actually cost to renovate. They might also make the mistake of thinking they can do it all themselves. It’s too simple to think that you can tackle major structural changes on your own. I can help guide you with advice on what projects may or may not be out of your skill set.
4. Not hiring an inspector
This one is easy. You should always have a home inspection. Period. Even if it is a bank owned property, it is still good to know what you’re buying.
5. Being distracted by over-the-top features
Don’t let yourself be distracted by over-the-top improvements or home features that you won’t end up using. A swimming pool, for example, may have you dreaming of hosting summer parties however, swimming pools are high maintenance and very expensive. Same goes for elaborate landscaping or rooms dedicated to a specific hobby (like a wine cellar, craft room or yoga room). You may luck out and be the buyer that is right for this home or you may hate these features and have to spend money removing them.