Buying your first home is a milestone and one of the largest financial decisions most people will ever make. Having worked with hundreds of first-time homebuyers throughout the years I feel like I’ve seen it all. I’ve witnessed people make good decisions and not so good decisions. To help you avoid some of the common pitfalls, I’ve compiled a list of the mistakes I see most often.
1.Not talking to a lender first – Buyers want to start looking for a home without having a firm grasp on their finances. The begin looking in a price range that is outside what they actually can afford. They find the perfect property and scramble to get their finances in order only to discover that it is not feasible. It sets them up for disappointment and puts a damper on the whole experience.
2. Waiting too long to make an offer – Buyers fall in love with a property but they decide to sit, wait and watch. The DC Metro real estate market moves swiftly and many times when you become interested in a property so does someone else and then you have a multiple offer situation.
3. Offering too little – The negotiating strategy always differs depending on the property and the sellers motivation level. When it comes down to the best and final offer I always encourage buyers to offer the price where they can walk away with no regrets if it doesn’t work out.
4. Putting too much faith in automated property valuations – Zillow estimates totally unreliable. The automated system pools from zip codes, which in many cases around here can include $200,000 condos as well as $2million properties. They don’t factor in property condition, location or any other pertinent facts.
5. Believing the home buying process is just like HGTV – What you see on the house hunting shows is a glamorized, highly edited version of reality. The real process of buying a home can be fun but also typically involves some stress and bumps in the road.
4. Over or underestimating the cost of home repairs – If a home is in need of improvement, it is a good idea to call in a professional contractor to provide some written estimates. If a certain repair item or improvement is a deal breaker, you don’t want to guess about the cost.
6. Letting your emotions rule– This is extremely tough….I know…The home buying process can bring out the whole range of emotions. Try as much as you can to keep them in check so that you can make clear-headed decisions.
7. Not researching the neighborhood – Location is everything. It’s the one thing you cannot change. Do your due diligence on the neighborhood before you buy. Make sure you are going to be comfortable living there.
10. Not listening to your Realtor’s advice – This is why you hire us. As real estate professionals our job is to educate you, avoid mistakes and help you make the right decisions. The average person buys a home just 2 or 3 times in their entire life. A seasoned, top-notch Realtor does this every day.
8. Choosing the wrong agent – This is a huge mistake that could cost you BIG. There are thousands of new, inexperienced, incompetent or even unscrupulous real estate agents out there – and they all want to work with YOU. Don’t place the largest financial decision of your life in the hands of someone who doesn’t know what they are doing. Make sure you are working with a real professional – someone knowledgeable, experienced and trustworthy.
If you are thinking of buying a home, I’d love to have the opportunity to put my skills and expertise to work for you. Just fill out the information below and we can schedule an informational meeting to discuss your needs and wants.