If you are in the process of buying a home, you’ve probably heard all the recommended “Do’s,” but you probably haven’t been warned about the “Don’ts.” Here’s my list of 7 mistakes for homebuyers to avoid.
- Falling For the Lipstick on a Pig
It’s so easy to be impressed by fresh paint, flooring, and light fixtures. And without the experience or expertise, it’s easy to be wooed by bad craftsmanship and not even realize it’s a crap job! So before falling in love and having all of your emotions invested in a home, ask those with more knowledge (your realtor perhaps?): What do we know about the house’s structure and major systems (like HVAC, plumbing, and electric)? Do you see any signs that the craftsmanship is DIY or subpar?
A “flip home” or remodeled home isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it can be a great thing! You want to keep your feelings in check enough to make sure that the “look” of the home does indeed match the quality you are hoping for.
- Not Doing a Home Inspection
Statistically speaking, purchasing a house is probably the most significant asset you will ever purchase. And you should absolutely know whether the house is safe and structurally sound before becoming its owner. There are many reasons home buyers can be persuaded not to have a home inspection. So don’t be manipulated! Even if it is a hot market where you need to waive your Inspection Contingency, it doesn’t mean you can’t have an inspection. It will mean you can’t back out of the contract for property condition without some sort of penalty, but don’t let that penalty stop you from finding out if the home needs $40,000 in foundation repair or $25,000 for electrical rewiring. Most of the time, you won’t find out something huge like that, and the home will be just fine.
- Being Rigid on Needs and Wants List
When I first meet with new home buyers, we always discuss their Needs and Wants list. It’s essential to have a plan when shopping for a home so that you don’t get lost in the hundreds of possibilities that are for sale.
However, I’ve often experienced home buyers that become so attached to their Needs and Wants that they forget the overall goal: to become a homeowner. Whether it’s your first home or your fifteenth, develop your list of Needs and Wants, and think about the bigger picture. For example, is it more important to have the fourth bedroom or a walk-in closet in the primary bedroom? Does the school district trump the size of the home? Is it more important to have an updated, move-in ready home or have a swimming pool?
It’s easy to become stressed and upset when we aren’t finding all the things we “Need” in a home. Usually, this means we need to reexamine our Needs, as maybe it doesn’t fit our budget or perhaps there just aren’t enough homes like that in the area you are looking for. Sometimes, we can find exactly the home we want but don’t even know it with a minor tweak to our list!
- Avoiding Fixer-Uppers
This one isn’t for everyone; however, one of your most significant opportunities to get into that great neighborhood and build huge equity is by being willing to purchase the Ugly Duckling. Do you remember the story about the funky duckling that turned out to be a beautiful swan? Find the swan!
Not all fixer-uppers are created equal. The ideal ones are in a great neighborhood and mostly need cosmetic work instead of structural work. However, in my experience, it’s almost impossible to find a home that doesn’t need at least one major fix (examples: roof, HVAC, retaining wall, deck replacement). If you can afford it both financially and emotionally, buying a home that needs work can really open up what homes and neighborhoods are available to you in your budget.
- Refusing to View the Homes with Bad Pictures
Please don’t take it out on the house; blame the listing agent! What do I mean? It isn’t the home’s fault that someone (IE., the listing agent) decided to shoot their pictures using an iPhone and had no idea about lighting, composition, editing, etc. Poor marketing doesn’t mean it’s a bad home. Don’t skip these properties because it could be your opportunity to 1. Find your perfect house, and 2. Have less competition because others missed it too.
- Being Too Set on a Specific Community
Location, location, location! We’ve all heard it a million times. And yes, what area you choose to purchase a home in is essential. However, there are times when our dream neighborhood and our budget don’t line up. No matter how good your real estate agent is, no one is magic, and they can’t make a home come up for sale that matches everything you want in your favorite neighborhood if it doesn’t align with what others are willing to pay to be there. Trust me; I wish I could make it happen!
Here’s my tip: Remember the overarching reasons why you want to live in that community and then find something that has a similar feel. Is it the good schools? The cool cafes? Once you know why you are most interested in that community or neighborhood, you can focus your energy on finding a community that offers that same feel but at a lesser cost. It may not be perfect, but you’ll own a home and be building equity that can be used toward your next home that hopefully will be in that dream neighborhood.
- Walking Away Because the House Isn’t Perfect
I’ve seen it happen so many times: A home buyer finally finds “The One,” gets into contract on the home, does home inspections…and then panics! Usually, it’s because the home inspection report is 40+ pages long and includes EVERYTHING that could/should be upgraded. A real estate agent may refer to this as the “Honey-Do” list, but it’s easy for a home buyer to be overwhelmed and think the house is falling down.
My recommendation: take a deep breath and have your real estate agent and home inspector walk you through the most critical items for health and safety that need to be addressed quickly. Then negotiate with the seller to fix those items or compensate you for them.
Here’s where home buyers get confused. Sometimes they believe a seller is supposed to fix everything on the list. And that just isn’t true or reasonable. So instead of dwelling on the fact that the house isn’t perfect, remember why you loved the home in the first place. Often you’ll realize that you still really want to be in that house in that neighborhood and will be willing to fix the items needed to bring it up to your standards.
Please note, I’m not suggesting that you have to purchase the home that ACTUALLY is falling down or has several hidden problems that really do compromise the home’s integrity.
The Big Picture
Buying a home is a whirlwind! Google may tell you otherwise, but it really is an intricate and ever-changing process, meaning it’s always best to have a knowledgeable advisor by your side. Need a recommendation on who can help you through the home buying process? Call me – I might know an excellent real estate agent 😉