Buying a home is a big deal. And as a first-time home buyer, there is so much you need to know. There are many first-time home buyer mistakes that are easy to make.
This article will discuss some of the common mistakes that can make your home purchase less than perfect. And, sometimes it can be years before you discover a mistake was made
These deadly mistakes are made by any home buyer not just first-time home buyers. And, can cost you tons of money, cause lots of aggravation, or both!
The excitement of buying your first home can cause you to rush forward and make decisions based on emotion.
Find out at the end of the article how to avoid these 10 Deadly First time home buying mistakes.
Top Mistakes To Avoid As A First-Time Home Buyer
1- Not Understanding Agency
Real Estate Agency is a misunderstood topic by many and can create a variety of problems if not fully understood.
Basically, agency is how a real estate agent works for you and will interact with you in a real estate transaction.
It is a “legal relationship” you have with your agent.
The listing agent or seller’s agent owes the seller fiduciary responsibility….. their job is to secure the highest and best offer possible for their sellers… their duty is to the seller, not you the home buyer.
They are to legally give every advantage to their seller even at your expense.
A Buyer’s Agent on the other hand owes the home buyer fiduciary responsibility. Every home buyer has the right to use a buyer’s agent.
2- Not Getting Pre-Approved Before Looking At Homes
Looking at homes is fun!
Talking about money or lack thereof is not!
Getting a proper pre-approval letter will head off tons of aggravation and heartache from the start.
A proper pre-approval will ensure you are looking at the right homes. It allows you to look at homes for sale with confidence knowing exactly what your monthly payment will be.
When creating a budget and making decisions it is important to work with real numbers. A pre-approval will allow you to do that.
There is more to think of than your monthly mortgage payment. Gain an understanding of your debt-to-income ratio, a major qualifier to getting a mortgage. Your debt-to-income ratio will provide you with a full picture of your monthly debt load.
A Mortgage Pre-Approval Has Many Benefits
Your pre-approval can also be a great negotiating tool. If written properly and explained to the selling side it will give the seller confidence that you will not back out by using your mortgage commitment contingency.
You will also be having a dialogue about programs and interest rates with your mortgage officer prior to finding a home. There will be no surprises by the time you submit your mortgage application for a specific home.
And if you have any issues with your credit profile you have time to work on them as you work through the home-buying process.
Plus it is a great time to raise your credit score. Every 20 points in credit score improves your position. Including the interest rate you are offered for a mortgage as well as opening up better loan programs for you.
3- Not Seeking the Proper Professional Help
Don’t think you can learn everything you need to know about buying a home on the internet. Real estate is dynamic and markets change quickly. An article written a year ago can be outdated.
One thing I can say for sure is as a home buyer you don’t know what you don’t know.
There are buyer’s agents that can help you buy a home whose sole responsibility is to protect your interest.
Plus you have mortgage bankers, home inspectors, real estate attorneys, appraisers, home improvement contractors and more….
Each can play a vital role in your home purchase.
Saving $500 by not having a real estate attorney review your purchase contracts or skimping $100 to get a cheaper home inspection is penny-wise and pound-foolish.
Every one of these professionals is immersed in the business of real estate 8+ hours a day.
You can’t possibly know what they know about real estate. Every day, every closing and every client brings them more real estate experience to help serve their next client.
4- Thinking Short-Term and Ignoring Intermediate and Long Term Housing Needs
Thinking of your immediate housing goals without thinking about your long-term goals is one of the first-time home buyer mistakes that can lead to disaster.
Try to buy a home that will suit your needs for the next seven to 10 years at a minimum.
Three to five years might seem like a long time. But jobs change as well as marital status or family size can change in that period.
There is a cost to selling your house and if the market is not appreciating quickly you might not get all of your money out in a short period of time if you end up having to sell.
Of course, no one can think of every possible scenario but work thru the obvious ones.
Is your job stable? Will your family status remain the same or will the home you buy allow for changes? Is my income stable? etc….
When buying your first home think intermediate to long term. By doing so you will weather any market corrections.
5- Buying A Home Directly From The Listing Agent
Deciding that buying a home directly from the listing agent is fraught with issues. It may seem to save you time, or you think you are getting some inside track, or are led to believe you are getting a discount.
The listing agent represents the seller’s best interest, not yours.
A listing agent can provide you with information and facilitate an offer. They are not allowed to give an opinion of value, recommend top-notch professionals, point out potential problems with the home, etc….. They cannot counsel, guide you or make suggestions that benefit you in any way.
And, when things go sideways they have to legally align themselves with the seller. You are on your own.
As a first-time home buyer, it is a mistake to buy a home without your own representation from a REALTOR.
6- Not Having a Home Inspection or Hiring the Wrong Home Inspector
Unless you know what you are doing, don’t do it. Don’t skip the home inspection to save money or because the listing agent told you, you would get the house if you would.
A house is filled with expensive systems and fixing one or several of them can be expensive.
Not only is it important to have an inspection but hire the best home inspector you can find. This is not the time to save money.
Referrals and your buyer’s agent can be good resources to find a great home inspector. I personally like small independent home inspectors. They don’t rely on marketing to get business they rely on doing a good job and getting referrals.
The independent home inspector is only as good as their last job. Their business counts on it.
7- Not Fully Understanding the Costs Involved
There are closing costs, pre-paids, escrows, home inspection fees, moving costs and more when you are purchasing a home.
Make sure you fully understand the costs involved when purchasing a home. Many times home buyers overlook the costs that are above and beyond their down payment.
A mortgage officer will cover all your down payment and closing costs that will be needed and a buyer’s agent will discuss other costs with you as well.
If this is your first home don’t forget some of the basics you may need immediately, like a snow blower or a lawnmower. Or maybe your house was not fully applianced and you need a refrigerator, washer and/or dryer.
Consider keeping a few months of living expenses in your saving account to cover any unforeseen issues.
8- Not Understanding Current Market Conditions
Real estate markets rise and fall continually. And, they can do so very quickly as 2022 has shown us. In a matter of 6 months, drastic changes occurred.
The current state of the real estate market dictates many things when you are buying a home.
For example, if you are in a buyer’s market you will negotiate differently than when you are in a seller’s market. In a seller’s market, a seller may be motivated but not desperate while in a buyer’s market, they may be desperate and more willing to negotiate!
Most home buyers’ understanding of the current market conditions can be 6 to 12 months behind what is really happening.
Most market indicators are historical indicators making them lagging indicators. If a market was flat and down last fall and winter, it doesn’t mean that market can’t turn on a dime and be red hot in the spring.
Only a real estate agent has access to the most up-to-date real estate market data and the skills to interpret them.
9- Relying on Oral Agreements or Statements
If you are buying a home based on what an agent or a seller is telling you, make sure to get it in writing.
Oral agreements or representations are legal but not enforceable. “But the seller agent said”… is probably not going to cut it in court.
Any representations that have been made to you that are part of your buying decision need to be put in writing in a purchase and sale contract.
For example, a big one around me is owners will have an in-law or accessory apartments and if you ask them if they are legal, the owner will say yes.
Or another example is a home seller or agent will state with certainty where the property’s boundaries are. But without a survey or identifying all the boundary markers there is no way anyone can say exactly where the property lines are.
Most often they are not. Have them put it in writing that they warrant the unit is legal and that a permit can be obtained. You are paying a premium for that in-law apartment, but you should only do so if the inlaw can be legally permitted by the town.
10- Not Understanding Fair Market Value
There is a process for determining fair market value of a home. It compares homes with similar specifications in a similar location to the subject property.
What you can afford or what your dad thinks has nothing to do with what most other buyers in the marketplace will spend on that home. Only a Comparative Market Analysis or an Appraisal can indicate what a home is worth.
A home can be overpriced, priced right at market or even be underpriced. As a matter of fact, many homes will be priced right at market or slightly under to generate multiple offers.
It is a strategy home sellers and real estate agents use. Another home buyer will come in and scoop it from underneath you if you are trying to play hardball and get the home for less than the asking price of the home if it is priced fairly.
Being able to have an idea of what a home is worth will give you an understanding of its value as it sits today and will help you structure an offer that will get you the home you want.
11- Not Researching the Neighborhood
Another common first-time home buyer mistake is not researching the neighborhood.
I will start off with an example.
Years ago, I had a neighbor who bought a new construction next to me. They were large lots in a 4-house sub-division. The new owners, not only did not do their research, they never walked the entire property. They were shocked the first night when they discovered a train track about 200 feet off the back of their home.
The solution would have been to walk the entire property, drive every street around the home or simply look at google maps! Start with a visual survey of the area.
The internet can provide us with so much information. You can identify if there are superfund sites nearby, sex offenders in the neighborhood, shooting ranges, train tracks, flight paths, undesirable commercial businesses and more…
Take a few minutes and find out what is going on around the home you are about to purchase. See if there are any deal breakers that might affect the use of your property.
12- Not Understanding How to Negotiate
It is easier for a buyer to negotiate in a buyer’s market. A buyer’s market will allow a buyer to get away with a lot and be more demanding.
Flop to a seller’s market and you will be putting in offer after offer. Your offers will continue to be rejected if you don’t change your negotiating strategy.
I can’t tell you how many times a home buyer wants to negotiate his way and is floored when the seller doesn’t even engage in negotiations with them and the seller then sells to another buyer that was just a way better offer!!
There are so many variables in structuring a negotiating strategy and no one way will work every time.
Real Estate Agents spend part of every day negotiating prices, home inspections and other detail involved in a real estate transaction. A Massachusetts Buyer’s Agent can be an extremely valuable resource.
How to Avoid Making These First Time Home Buyer Mistakes
Quite frankly the solution is easy! All you have to do to avoid these 10 home-buying mistakes is to use a buyer’s agent.
And, I am not talking about the first agent you run into that says they can help you or your Aunt Mary because shes in the business and is a family member. I am talking about finding an agent you trust, who can provide you with data, educate you about the process and bring the necessary skills to the table.
Emotions and urgency can easily take over a home buyer.
A buyer’s agent is in the business of home buying and can work through details quickly and remain objective. They have a unique set of skills that will be extremely helpful while you buy a home.
Remember a buyer’s agent works for you. You are still in control and call the shots. They are just there to guide you, provide resources and use their skills and ability to help you make the most of your home purchase.
Every one of these points a good buyer’s agent will navigate you through with ease.
We do real estate every day. A buyer’s agent will take time to understand your motivation to buy. They will discuss the other professionals you might need as well as make recommendations. A buyers agent will help you identify homes, run an analysis of values and help structure a negotiating strategy as well.
Kevin Vitali of Real Broker MA, LLC, is a Massachusetts Realtor that has provided 12 Deadly Home Buying Mistakes. You can contact Kevin by email at email@example.com or call 978-360-0422.
I pride myself in the quality of my work while helping buyers and sellers..
Real Estate Services in northeast Massachusetts, around the Merrimack Valley, Southern New Hampshire including the towns of Andover, Billerica, Boxford, Chelmsford, Dracut, Georgetown, Groveland, Haverhill, Lawrence, Lowell, Merrimac, North Andover, Newbury, Newburyport, North Reading, Rowley, Tewksbury, Tyngsboro, Westford, Wilmington, West Newbury
Other Helpful Home Buying Resources:
- Most buyers know they need to come up with a downpayment and closing costs. Bill Gassett discusses other costs associated with buying a home you haven’t thought of.
- Ever wonder how your real estate agent gets paid? Vicki Moore explains how an agent is compensated.
- Understanding what motivates home sellers can be an important step in buying a home. Debbie Drummond shares Things Every Buyer Should Know About Today’s Home Sellers.