1. Waiting Too Long To Buy. “Although exceptions do occur, buying now nearly always proves wiser than buying later” says Gary Eldred, Ph. D., author of Yes! You Can Own the Home You Want. When weighing the pros and cons of renting versus buying, it pays to look into a variety of buying options even if you only plan to stay in the home a couple of years. Consider purchasing at a bargain price, buying a fixer upper where you can quickly create value, or buying a home that would make a good rental property investment.
2. Waiting for Interest Rates to Come Down. It rarely pays to wait until interest rates come down to buy. The window of affordability can close fast if you hesitate, leaving you unable to buy or having to pay thousands more dollars than you would have otherwise. If rates are high when you decided to purchase a home, buy now and refinance later.
3. Buying with Your Eyes Focused on the Rearview Mirror. Many home buyers look at past rates of appreciation to determine what neighborhoods to look in. Since past appreciation is rarely an indication of what will happen in the future, don’t close yourself off from looking at neighborhoods you thought you’d never consider. Investigate “value signals” (good value, strong sales, convenient location, community spirit, community action, renovation and new construction, etc.) Dr. Eldred says, “Look for those neighborhoods that will be “hot” tomorrow, not necessarily those that were hot yesterday.”
4. Not Knowing Exactly How Much You Can Afford. How much home you can afford depends on how stable your finances are, what types of properties you’re considering, the financing options available to you, how good your credit is and so forth. Be sure to consult with a loan officer before you ever start house hunting to ensure that you can buy the home you want. If you’re ready to buy now, think about being preapproved for a loan.
Why? Because preapproval helps you save money. Preapproved buyers have 97% of the purchasing power of buyers and your agent may be able to negotiate anywhere from a 1-1/2% to 6-1/2% reduction in price for you. It also helps you avoid the frustration of the loan process. By completing the preapproval process before finding a home, you’ll already know you’re approved for a loan so there’s little of the usual anxiety involved, and you’ll save time. Home shopping is easier with the preapproval because the maximum loan amount and type of financing are already determined so you don’t waste time looking at homes that are more or less expensive than what you can afford. Once you’ve found a home the transaction is virtually done. Sellers are also more inclined to accept your offer because they’re dealing with a buyer with an approved loan.
5. Centering Negotiations on Price. Many buyers feel as though they need to get the lowest price in a home. Often however, there are other concessions a seller can make that are more beneficial to you. Your real estate agent can negotiate on your behalf for a seller-paid buy-down or closing costs, credit for repairs, the washer and dryer, etc. All of these things can save you money when buying a home. Be sure and discuss all your options with your agent and ask him or her to help you evaluate what’s best for your specific situation.
6. Comparing Homes by Purchase Price. Be sure to compare not only home prices but also the monthly costs associated with those houses that you’re considering. Costs for utilities, property taxes, homeowner’s association dues, homeowner’s insurance premiums, maintenance, and other expenses can vary widely from house to house. Estimate the average monthly cost of homeownership on every home you look at.
7. Failing to Plan for Homeownership. “In survey after survey,” writes Dr. Eldred, “renters claim they ‘can’t afford’ to buy because they lack enough money for a down payment. Often this belief reveals a lack of education about low (or no) down payment home finance possibilities. But just as often, it reveals a failure to plan.” A loan officer can show you how to pay off your bills, repair your credit, save for a down payment, etc. Make homeownership your number one priority. Changing your beliefs about whether you can buy or not is the first step to buying a home.
8. Changing your “Loan Status” Before Your Loan Closes.
Changing anything about your financial picture before your loan closes can greatly impact your ability to qualify for financing. It is absolutely critical to avoid changing jobs, switching banks, moving money around, paying off bills, opening a new charge account, or making any major purchases (furniture, car, appliances, etc.) since doing so can delay your closing or prevent you from obtaining a loan altogether.
9. Failing to Estimate Repair and Renovation Cost. It’s very important to make sure that your new home is inspected by professionals so that you’re fully aware of any problems the property may have. Your agent can advise you on termite and roof reports, structural inspections, and home inspections which cover the major systems (electrical, plumbing, etc.) so that you are not hit with big bills immediately after you move in. Know what you’re getting into before you buy.
10. Failing to Compare Loan Programs and Costs.
Every borrower has different financial goals and needs. Making a mistake on your home loan financing can cost you thousands of dollars. Your loan officer can provide you with a computerized analysis of costs so you can choose the best program for you.