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7 Things to Never, Ever Do When Buying a Home

1. Don’t shop for homes without an agent

By all means, start by looking online at pictures of pretty houses—the more the better. It’s a vastly useful way to get the lay of the land. But when it comes time to get serious about buying a house, you should find a professional to help you out.

Think of a buyer’s agent as a fairy godparent who’s here to turn your homeownership dreams into reality. A Realtor will guide you through every step of the home-buying process—from finding the right property and writing a winning offer to negotiating home inspection repairs and sailing through to closing. You want an advocate who is going to look out for your best interests in the transaction.

 

2. Don’t meet with just one mortgage lender

Once you’ve found a real estate agent, your next step should be to get pre-approved for a home loan. To do that, you’ll have to meet with a mortgage lender and provide a good amount of paperwork, including two years of W-2 forms, two years of tax returns, and proof of funds for the down payment.

Get at least three quotes from different lenders so that you can survey your options and find the best loan for you.

3. Don’t understate your budget

It might sound strange, but a number of home buyers make the mistake of hiding their true budget from their real estate agent. If you’re not upfront with your agent about your price range, you might miss out on a great house.

 

4. Don’t hold out for the ‘perfect’ house

People throw around the words “dream home” a lot. However, there really is no such thing as a perfect house, create a list of “musts” and “wants” to identify their criteria and focus on what really matters.

5. Don’t make ridiculously lowball offers

You obviously want to get a bargain, but you could lose out on a home that you love by making an absurdly low offer. In fact, a recent survey from Inman found that 15% of real estate agents say the third-largest mistake people make when buying a home is offering too little for a property (that’s behind not talking to a lender first and waiting too long to make an offer).

When you overlook market data and make a lowball offer, you’re pretty much slapping the seller in the face. If you offend the seller, the person might not even be willing to make you a counteroffer.

Bottom line: Trust your agent to help you assess the value of a house.

6. Don’t forget to budget for closing costs

As the home buyer, you have the (unfortunate) pleasure of shouldering the lion’s share of the closing costs. Your mortgage lender should be able to give you a rough estimate of your closing costs once a seller accepts your offer.

7. Don’t make big purchases before you close

Once you have found the right house and get the seller to accept your offer, your loan still needs to go through underwriting in order for you to obtain the mortgage. One thing underwriters do is look at your credit score from the three major credit bureaus—Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion—to make sure your credit hasn’t changed since you were pre-approved.

Therefore, you’ll want to avoid taking on any new debt while you’re in the process of buying a house. Purchasing a car with an auto loan or maxing out your credit cards, for example, could hurt your credit score, which could potentially raise your loan’s interest rate or—in the worst case—get your mortgage application rejected. (In other words: Bye-bye, new house.)

 

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