8 Common House-Hunting Mistakes First-Time Homebuyers Make

8 common house-hunting mistakes first-time homebuyers make - graphic

House-hunting is the most exciting part of buying a house for many first-time homebuyers. It is an opportunity to finally choose a home you love for a price you can afford. However, many of us get carried away during the process and forget that there’s a lot at stake.

For example, some first-time homebuyers overestimate their finances when house-hunting and attend showings of houses above their budget. This mistake leads to a waste of everyone’s time (including agents and sellers). As you may expect, these buyers then feel dissatisfied when they start attending showings of houses within their budget. Some buyers even give in to their impulse and buy the house above their budget, only to get into financial trouble from being unable to keep up with payments in the future. 

But this is not the only mistake home buyers make when looking for a house. So, what are the other common house-hunting mistakes first-time homebuyers make?

  • Not knowing what they need
  • Going house-hunting alone
  • Making their search too narrow
  • Not getting pre-approved beforehand
  • Being too open-minded
  • Being too picky
  • Not thinking ahead
  • Taking too long to make a decision

1. Not knowing what they need

A woman thinking about what she needs in a dream house

One popular house-hunting mistake buyers make is not understanding their needs before they start looking for a house. It puts them in a situation where they see a place and are not sure if they like it. Most of them eventually end up losing out on a fantastic property or settling for a bad one.

So, how can you avoid this house-hunting mistake?

As a first-time homebuyer, you already have a mental picture of your dream house. Now, what are the features you NEED to have in your home? After writing that down, list the features you will like to have in the house but DON’T NEED.

Use the answers to these questions to draw up a list of priorities. Divide these priorities into “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves.” Do this with the guidance of an agent so they can tell you if your priorities are achievable.

For example, if you have kids, having a back-yard can be under your “must-have.” Therefore, you should check out houses with this feature. Now let’s say a home has a “nice-to-have” feature, e.g., a walk-in closet, but not the yard; you will know not to waste your time by checking it out.

2. Going house-hunting without an agent

Looking for a house alone does not seem like a big deal to many first-time homebuyers. After all, they already know the type of home they want and can easily find them online. Also, they get to save money on the real estate agent’s commission by buying on their own, right? 

Well, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

A real estate agent is anyone’s best chance of getting their dream house. For starters, they have more in-depth insight into the local market than the average joe. While you may know how to find places online, experienced agents are privy to offline information you can’t access—like early knowledge about homes going up for sale in your preferred location. 

Also, having an agent will give you an upper hand at negotiation because they know comparative sales and are expert negotiators. Most important of all is that their service is FREE. Well, not free, but it is the seller’s duty to pay the buyer’s agent – not you. Put simply – you have nothing to lose and a lot to gain by hiring an agent to represent you as a buyer.

3. Making their search too narrow

It is only ideal to have a location in mind before you start looking for a house. However, many first-time buyers take this too far by strictly narrowing their search to a particular area. This mistake can lead to them missing out on their dream house because it is not in a specific neighborhood. 

You see, the broader your search when house-hunting, the likelier you are to find your dream house. Be open to shopping for homes in nearby places, counties, or even towns. 

This is another reason why you should consult an agent when house-hunting. They may have insight into locations you never thought of. These locations may be more suited to your needs than your preferred location. 

4. Not getting a mortgage pre-approval

An approved stamp

The housing marketplace is competitive. As a first-time homebuyer, you have to do everything you can to stand out. Hence, the need to have a mortgage pre-approval when house-hunting. 

Not having your mortgage pre-approval letter with you will make your seller think you’re not serious about acquiring their home. 

5. Being too open-minded

As we have stated earlier, you should have a list of priorities before you start house-hunting. Your priority list will let you identify what you want in a house and what you don’t. 

But some first-time homebuyers compromise when house shopping. They go about looking at houses that do not meet their needs. This may lead to a situation whereby they are coerced into making an offer for something they don’t like. 

When you are looking for a house, endeavor to stick to your “must-haves” – provided that your agent tells you getting a place with such features is achievable. 

Don’t be quick to give in because you are tired of house-hunting or for any other reason. For example, if you want a house with a front porch, don’t check out places without one. If you want a smart house, avoid going to showings of homes without this feature.

6. Being too picky

Limiting your options is one of the worst mistakes you can make when looking for a house. Many first-time homebuyers will pass on many good homes for even the smallest of reasons. They nit-pick and find something wrong with every place that they come across. The result? A very long house-hunting process and dissatisfaction at the end.

For example, you shouldn’t walk out on the house in Utah if you discover that your dream house tests positive for radon during due diligence. The reason for this is because one out of every three homes in Utah tests positive for radon due to the high content of uranium deep underground. 

Installing a high-quality radon mitigation system costs around $1,500, a small price to pay to get your dream house. Even if the seller is unwilling to give you repair credit for the radon mitigation system, walking away from your dream home due to a positive radon test may not be the wisest decision. 

Now, don’t get us wrong – it is normal to have the standard you are looking for in your home. It would be best if you didn’t compromise on your “must-haves.” But keep an open mind about other things, provided that a house checks all your “must-haves” features, you can choose to overlook the less important ones.

7. Not thinking ahead

A man with a binocular looking for a house

Your present needs and wants may be different from your future ones. And that is why you must consider them when house-hunting. First-time homebuyers who discard their future needs to settle for their present dream house may have troubles with the house in the long run.

For example, a newly married couple house-hunting has to consider the expansion of their family. While a small house may be ideal for their present situation, it is not viable for the future. Therefore, they have to choose a big place, or they will need to accept that they will need to move at some point. 

8. Taking too long to make a decision

Once you see a house you like, make an offer – fast. This tip is crucial, especially if you’re house shopping in a seller’s market. With more buyers available than homes for sale, you run a higher risk of losing your dream house by not offering immediately. 

Now, we know that buying a house is a substantial financial investment; hence, you can’t just rush through it. But you can take your time thinking things through and still make a quick decision. 

The best way to do this? 

Consult an experienced real estate agent. That is one important reason you need to have a realtor with you when searching for a house. So, where can you find such an agent? Look no further than Bost Redevelopment

Let Bost Redevelopment help you buy your dream house!

Having an agent like Bost Redevelopment in your corner automatically increases your chances of getting the house of your dream.

Our expert team of real estate agents will provide all the support you need throughout the house buying process. We will use our network and connection to help you find the house of your dream. Lastly, we will negotiate with the seller to make sure you get a favorable deal.

Want to talk more about your options? Please leave us a message below with your contact information and let us know how we can help you.

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