Property Expert Nick Statman – Looking for a new home can be an exciting and sometimes overwhelming experience. Most homebuyers go into the house hunting journey with a set of expectations about how the process will go. Ideally, you’ll browse a few listings online, meet with an Estate Agent that you like, check out a few homes and immediately disregard ones that you don’t like. Best case scenario, you’ll find a few that you love, and narrow it down until you find your dream home. Unfortunately, the house hunting journey doesn’t always play out like this. And because there are so many steps associated with finding a new home, there are plenty of opportunities to make mistakes. If you can learn from the mistakes of other home buyers, you may be able to avoid them in your personal house hunting adventure.
Here are the 7 top house-hunting mistakes and how you can avoid them
Not Defining A Clear Budget Up Front
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. This is true in almost all areas of your life, including buying a home. If you do not have a clear idea of your budget and what you can afford before you start looking at houses, you could end up looking at (and falling in love with) homes that are beyond your means. This often leads to looking for ways to stretch your budget to buy a home you can not really afford. To avoid this, take the time to look at your current financial situation and put together a realistic and accurate home buying budget. Commit not to look at houses that are beyond your price point. If you are working with an Agent, make sure he or she knows your budget and respects your boundaries.
Remember, even if a home is only £50,000 over budget, it really adds up to much more than that when you consider the interest you will be paying on the extra £50,000. Be honest with yourself about how much you can afford and stick to this number throughout your home buying process.
Not Getting Pre-Approved For Your Mortgage
One of the first steps in buying a home happens long before you even start looking. Getting pre-approved for your mortgage will help you understand how much you qualify for. This step will help you put together a budget, and will also move the process along quicker once you decide to officially apply for a mortgage. This step is especially crucial if you have bad credit since what you think you can afford may not line up with what the bank is willing to lend you. Most sellers will not take interested buyers seriously if they haven’t already been pre-approved for their mortgage.
Not Seeing The Potential
One of the biggest mistakes a homebuyer can make is not being able to see the home’s potential. If you walk into the home and immediately discount it because of its horrendous wallpaper or outdated bathroom, you could be missing out on a real gem. Remember that there are many things you can change about the home’s aesthetics. Rooms can be updated, flooring can be replaced, walls can be repainted. Try to walk into every property with an open mind and a willingness to see its potential.
Looking Past Significant Flaws
On the other side, it can be easy to fall in love with a home and look past significant issues. You may find a home that has everything that you want, is within your budget, and is in a great neighbourhood. But if the house needs significant repairs, it is important to consider this. While a few upgrades and maintenance issues can be expected when buying a new home, if the home you’re looking at needs a new roof or has a questionable foundation, it may not be the home for you. It can be easy to start shopping with your heart and your emotions instead of your logic, but be careful to keep the two separate. If you don’t have the money or the resources to perform the significant renovations that the property needs to meet your standards, it’s probably best to move on.
Focusing On The House, But Not The Neighbourhood
When buying a home, you’re not just committing to a piece of property; you’re committing to the whole neighbourhood. One of the biggest mistakes you can make as you search for your new home is not paying enough attention to the neighborhood. Drive through the neighbourhood during the week, on weekends, and in the evenings to get an idea for how the community feels at different times. Take into consideration how far their neighbourhood is from where you work, the local schools, grocery stores, entertainment spots, and other important places that you will visit regularly.
Talk with the neighbours to see how they feel about where they live, and do a little research to find out about the trends of home prices in the area. Some questions you should ask include:
- Are there plans to build other homes or commercial buildings nearby?
- Are there plans to develop the neighbourhood any further?
Neglecting to ask these questions could result in buying a home for its seclusion and privacy, only to find out that a major shopping centre will be built right behind it. The more you can find out about the neighbourhood and the surrounding area, the more equipped you’ll be to decide whether or not the community is a good fit for your lifestyle.
Making A Decision Too Fast
If you’re buying a home in a buyer’s market, there is no need to rush into making an offer. Do your research, take the time to get pre-approved, and explore all of your options before making an offer. Have a survey done, view the property multiple times, and make sure you have as much information about the property as you can before putting in an offer. This will help to avoid any unexpected surprises. In a buyer’s market, take at least one night to sleep on your decision to make sure the home has everything you want and need.
Not Making A Decision Fast Enough
If you are buying a home in a seller’s market, time is of the essence. You will be competing against other motivated and qualified buyers and will not have the luxury of waiting days, or even hours, to make a decision. Many home buyers will tell you that one of the biggest mistakes they make is getting stuck in the research and analytics of home buying. They were so consumed with weighing every pro and con about a particular property that they lost the property altogether to someone else. This can be a heartbreaking lesson to learn.
It is also important to take into consideration the economic impacts of house hunting. Searching for homes, filling out paperwork, and attending open houses can all take an extraordinary amount of time. This can take away from the time you could be spending working and earning a living. If you wait for the stars to align and for all of the circumstances to be perfect before buying a home, you’ll never buy a home. Be careful and intentional about making a decision, but then make the decision.
Buying a house is one of the most significant milestones in your life. You are not just committing to four walls and a roof, but to a place where your family will feel safe, comfortable, and connected. As you start on your house hunting journey, learn from the mistakes of the home buyers who have come before you. By being honest about your finances upfront, getting pre-approved, and looking at each home with an open mind, you can walk into the house-hunting process with confidence.