Okay, we’re down to the Final Four. This weekend Nova, Kansas, Michigan and little Loyola will battle it out. So we are using basketball to come up with our own final four of sorts. What we’ve done here is to create a list of the top four mistakes that first time home buyers keep making over and over again. If you can avoid these fatal errors then homeownership can be a real blessing… but fall into one of these traps and it can also prove to be a nightmare.
It was hard cutting the list down to just four. There are several important missteps that also need to be quickly mentioned: forgetting to make the first mortgage payment, buying more house than you can afford, making a major purchase (like a car) prior to getting a home loan or being either too eager to close or too indecisive to buy. All of those are things you want to avoid… but here now are the FATAL FOUR
- DON’T PUT THE CART BEFORE THE HORSE When you apply this old cliché to real estate the horse is not the home. The horse is the money!!! Get the money before you go house hunting. I can’t tell you how many people end up with a broken heart because they get excited about something only to discover that they can’t get a loan for that amount. We know that looking at homes is fun… that’s why we went into this business. And although we have many friends on the finances side, crunching numbers can be… well, it’s dull. But the money is what is going to drive your search. Get the money first and then let’s start the fun stuff.
- DON’T CALL THE LISTING AGENT: Okay it makes sense, you drive by a house that has a sign and a phone number, or perhaps you’re online looking at your dream home and there’s a smiling picture of an agent next to the listing. So, you call. I mean who is going to know more about the property than the guy who is trying to sell it? But that guy you just called works for the seller. Not you! His job is to get the seller the highest price possible. Worst yet once you contact the listing agent, you may have trouble getting another agent who will represent you. North Carolina Law gives the first agent you contact (on any given property) procurement rights. Which means the second agent you called may not be legally entitled to a commission. The only way to make sure you don’t fall into this trap is to work with a buyer’s exclusive agency.
- THEY SKIP THE HOME INSPECTION When you buy a home you not only get what you see… YOU ALSO GET WHAT YOU DON’T SEE. The big problems will be hidden out of eyesight, in walls, in pipes and under the ground. Buyers have to come up with the money for the inspection. And that can be expensive coming out of pocket, especially if the information causes you to back out of the contract. But the knowledge can save you money in the long run, give you leverage in the short run, and possibly save you from a huge mistake. Your real estate agent should be able to recommend a certified home inspector.
- THEY UNDERSTATMATE THE COST OF OWNERSHIP One of the biggest mistakes happens long after the loan has gone through, and the home has been inspected and the papers have been signed. It may even take place months after you move in. Sometimes we hear of buyers who were really not ready to afford a purchase. It’s not the mortgage payment . By this time in the process you know what’s that’s going to cost and you worked it into your budget. It’s everything else: the electric bill, the gas bill, the cable bill, the water bill, you’re going to have all these things that the bank doesn’t care about when qualifying you for a mortgage. Renters often pay these kinds of bills, too. But the new home could have higher costs — and it might come with entirely new bills, such as homeowner association fees and property taxes. Before closing ask to see the seller’s utility bills for the last year.