As a first-time buyer, there are some homebuyer mistakes you should avoid to ensure a smooth and successful experience:
THINKING YOU DON’T NEED A REAL ESTATE AGENT
You might be able to find a house on your own, but there are still many aspects of buying real estate that can confuse a first-time buyer. Rely on your agent to negotiate offers, inspections, financing and other details. The money you would have saved on commission can be quickly gobbled up by a botched offer or overlooked repairs.
GETTING YOUR HEART SET ON A HOME BEFORE YOU DO YOUR HOMEWORK
The house that’s love at first sight may not always be what it seems, so keep an open mind. Plus, if you jump in too fast you may be too quick to go over budget or you might overlook a potential pitfall.
CHOOSING A FIXER-UPPER BECAUSE THE LISTING PRICE IS CHEAPER
That old character home may have loads of potential, but be extra diligent during the inspection period. What will it really cost to get your home to where it needs to be? Negotiating a long due-diligence period will give you time to get estimates from contractors in case you need to back out.
COMMITTING TO MORE THAN YOU CAN AFFORD
Don’t sacrifice retirement savings or an emergency fund for mortgage payments. You need to stay nimble to life’s changes and overextending yourself could put your investments—including your house—on the line.
GOING WITH THE FIRST AGENT WHO FINDS YOU
Don’t get halfway into house hunting before you realize your real estate agent isn’t right for you. The best source: a referral from friends. Ask around and take the time to speak with your potential choices before you commit to a realtor.
DIVING INTO RENOVATIONS AS SOON AS YOU BUY
Renovations may increase the value of your home, but don’t rush. Overextending your credit to get upgrades done fast doesn’t always pay off. Take time to make a solid plan and the best financial decisions. Living in your home for a while before renovating will also help you plan the best functional changes to the layout.
CHOOSING A HOUSE WITHOUT RESEARCHING THE NEIGHBOURHOOD
It may be the house of your dreams, but annoying neighbours or a nearby industrial zone can be a rude awakening. Spend some time in the area before you make an offer and talk to local business owners and residents to determine the pros and cons of living there.
RESEARCHING YOUR BROKER AND AGENT, BUT NOT YOUR LAWYER
New buyers often put all their energy into learning about mortgage rates and offers. But don’t forget that the final word in any deal comes from your lawyer. Like finding a real estate agent, your best referral sources for a lawyer will be friends and business associates.
FIXATING ON THE LOWEST INTEREST RATE
A reasonable interest rate is important, but not at the expense of heavy restrictions and penalties. Make a solid long-term plan to pay off your mortgage and then find one that’s flexible enough to accommodate life changes, both planned and unexpected.
OPTING OUT OF MORTGAGE INSURANCE
Your home is your largest investment, so be sure to protect it. Mortgage insurance not only buys you peace of mind, it also allows for more flexible financing options. Plus, it allows you to take advantage of available equity to pay down debts or make financial investments.