5 Common First-Time Homebuyer Mistakes to Avoid

The prospect of buying your first home is both exciting and nerve-wracking. On one hand, owning your own house is the final step of financial independence. You’re no longer accountable to a landlord and their rental agreement. On the other hand, buying a home is a huge financial decision that will determine where you live for the next several years.

As a first-time buyer, there’s a lot to learn about buying a house. You’ll often hear homeowners say, “I wish I knew that before buying this house.” So, in this article, we’re going to give you some common mistakes that first-time buyers make so you can have the best possible experience in the home buying process.  

1. Underestimating the costs

When first-time buyers get preapproved for a mortgage, they sometimes see this as permission to spend whatever amount they’re approved for. However, even after closing costs, there are a number of other expenses you’ll need to account for in your budget.

You’ll be responsible for maintenance, utilities, taxes, and repairing things when they get old. If all of your money is tied up just paying your mortgage and other bills, you won’t have anything left over to maintain your house.

Furthermore, living your life just to make your mortgage payments is draining. Instead, buy a house that gives you enough room to save for retirement, vacations, a family, or whatever else you see in your future.

2. Prequalify first

Before you start shopping for homes, make sure you meet some basic prerequisites. You’ll need a solid credit score, steady income history, and money saved for a down payment. You might set yourself up for disappointment looking at homes that are outside of your spending limit if you don’t get prequalified first.

3. This probably isn’t your last home

While it’s okay to dream about the future, don’t set unrealistic expectations for your first home. You can always upgrade later on, and building equity in your first home is a good way to help you do that.

4. Don’t get too attached to your “dream home”

So, you’ve been shopping around for a few weeks and finally found the perfect house. If everything goes well your offer could get accepted. But if it doesn’t, don’t worry about it. There are constantly new houses appearing on the market, and there’s a good chance you’ll like one even more than this one.

5. Don’t waive contingencies without good reason

Contingencies are there to protect you. They might seem like a way to needlessly complicate a contract. Or, you might think that waiving them makes you look better in the eyes of the seller. However, both sellers and their agents know that contingencies serve an important purpose.

The three main contingencies you’ll want when buying a home are an appraisal contingency, financing contingency, and an inspection contingency. Unless you’re buying under special circumstances, you’ll want to keep all three in your contract. 

Best Practices for Creating a Competitive Home Offer

Looking to put together an offer on a house? Ultimately, you’ll want to submit a competitive first offer. By doing so, you can speed up the process of acquiring your dream residence.

When it comes to submitting a competitive home offer, however, it is important to understand what differentiates a “fair” proposal from a subpar one.

To better understand how to submit a competitive proposal, let’s take a look at three best practices that every homebuyer needs to consider before making an offer on a house.

1. Evaluate the Housing Market

If you plan to buy a house, you’ll want to examine the real estate market closely. That way, you can identify housing market patterns and trends and plan accordingly.

For example, if you find there is an abundance of high-quality houses available, you may be entering a buyer’s market. In this market, there likely is a shortage of homebuyers, which means a competitive offer at or near a home seller’s asking price is sure to grab this individual’s attention.

On the other hand, if you notice that homes are selling quickly in a city or town, you may need to prepare for a seller’s market. If you pursue houses in a seller’s market, you may need to act quickly due to the sheer volume of buyers competing for the same residences.

Clearly, a comprehensive housing market analysis can make a world of difference for homebuyers. With in-depth housing market insights at your disposal, you’ll be better equipped than other buyers to submit a competitive first offer on any residence, regardless of the current real estate market’s conditions.

2. Get Your Finances in Order

What good is a competitive home offer if you cannot afford to buy a residence? If you secure a home loan, you can narrow your home search to properties that you can afford. Then, you’ll be able to submit a competitive offer that ensures you won’t have to break your budget to purchase your dream residence.

Also, if you’re unsure about how your financial situation will impact your ability to buy a house, you should consult with banks and credit unions in your area. These financial institutions can help you get pre-approved for a home loan, establish a homebuying budget and much more.

3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent

When it comes to submitting a competitive home offer, it pays to receive expert homebuying support. Fortunately, you can hire a real estate agent who is happy to help you put together a competitive home offer.

A real estate agent can provide housing market data that you may struggle to obtain elsewhere. Plus, this housing market professional can offer unbiased home offer recommendations to ensure you can get an instant “Yes” from a home seller.

Collaborating with a real estate agent is a great option for homebuyers in all cities and towns. Reach out to local real estate agents today, and you can get the help you need to submit a competitive offer on any residence.

Myths To Avoid About Home Buying

When it comes to home buying a home, there’s a ton of different information available out there. A lot of what has been presented as “fact” actually is quite false. These misconceptions could keep you away from achieving the very real dream of home ownership. Below, you’ll find some of the most common myths that you’ll find about home buying.

If Your Credit Score Isn’t Up To Par, You Can’t Buy

To get good mortgage rates, having a good credit score doesn’t hurt. You can still buy a home if you don’t have amazing credit. A low credit score means that your mortgage rates will be higher than the average. There are loans like FHA loans, that allow for you to get a loan with a credit score as low as 580. Don’t let a lower credit score discourage you from buying a home. If your credit score is low, there are plenty of things that you can do to help you fix the score in a short period of time.  

You Need 20 Percent Down To Buy A Home

This is a long-standing myth about home buying. While putting down 20 percent on a home purchase saves you the extra expense of Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI), you can still be in the running to buy a home if your down payment is less than 20 percent. There are even some home loan programs that allow buyers to put as little as 0-3 percent down for the purchase of their home.

You Have To Make A Lot Of Money To Buy A Home

Your monthly income is one of many aspects of your financial life that’s considered when you’re buying a home. Home loans can be denied to those who make a large income just as easily as to those who have lower incomes. What matters is the debt-to-income ratio, which tells lenders how much debt a buyer has compared to the amount of income the buyer makes each and every month. Keep your debt down, and you’ll be in good shape to buy a home. 

You Don’t Need To Be Pre-Approved To Get A House

Being pre-approved gives you an upper hand in the home buying process. Being pre-approved allows your lender and you to go through the entire process of getting a mortgage. When you find a home that you love, you’re able to breeze through the process of making an offer if you’re pre-approved. The pre-approval process is one of the most important aspects of buying a home. 

If you’re prepared with knowledge, buying a home isn’t such a daunting process after all. Find a realtor you trust, understand your finances, and the rest will fall into place!

Choosing a Home Size That Makes Sense for You

When you drive through a new housing development does it seem like all of the homes are enormous compared to when you were growing up? You’re not alone. In fact, over the last 40 years, average home sizes have increased by over 1,000 square feet. In other words, you could fit an entire small house inside of the amount homes have grown in size.

Why do Americans love huge houses?

It’s counter-intuitive that home sizes should keep growing larger. Bigger houses mean higher prices, more maintenance, and more expensive utilities. To understand why, we need look no further than the automobile industry.

In spite of the fact that larger vehicles cost more to buy, use more gas, and do more harm to the environment, people still buy bigger and bigger trucks and SUVs. There are a few reasons why. One is that they can afford to (or they can at least afford the payments). Another reason is cultural. For the most part, bigger meant better in American culture–until recently.

Recently, many Americans have begun saying they would prefer smaller sized houses. That desire hasn’t entirely caught up to the people building the homes, however. And even as simple living trends and the “tiny house” phenomenon gain traction, building contractors still stand the most to gain from large houses and the people with the money to build houses continue to build big to stay aligned with the other homes in their neighborhood.

There are other obstacles in place for people who want a smaller house. Some counties around the U.S. now enforce minimum square footage requirements to uphold the building standards of the area. So, people hoping to move to a particular suburban area but don’t want a huge house might be out of luck.

How big of a home do I need?

There are a lot of things to consider if you’re buying a home. Size and cost often go hand-in-hand, but even if you can afford a larger home, do you really need the space? Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine how large of a house you really need:

  • Do I or will I have a family?
    Kids need space. They need bedrooms and places to play. The size of your family is going to be a huge factor in choosing the size of your home.
  • Do I need all this stuff?
    Many people use their homes like storage containers. Think about the last time you moved and what you brought with you. Now determine how often you used the things you brought. Odds are you have a lot of items just sitting around taking up space that you don’t really need.
  • Do I have hobbies that take up a lot of space?
    Woodworking, working on cars, playing drums… these are all examples of hobbies that call for some leg room.
  • Am I a dog person?
    Just like kids, pets tend to take up some room. Larger dogs and energetic dogs require more room, both outside and inside the house.
  • Do I have time to keep up with the maintenance?
    Bigger houses means more windows to clean, more toilets to scrub, more grass to mow… you get the idea. You might find that you’d rather have a beautiful and well-kept small home than a hard-to-maintain huge one.