Buying a home is probably the most expensive and complicated purchase you’ll ever make. While beginning this process and initially considering buying a home, one of the top questions you may be looking into is what are the biggest mistakes and misconception to be aware of when buying a home? From your initial decision to enter the market to the time after closing, it’s possible to make choices along the way that you might regret later on.
Here are a few common mistakes and misconceptions to be aware of when it comes to buying a home:
The first step in the home buying process starts with prequalifying for a loan. Prequalifying gives you and your real estate agent an idea of what you can afford based on your income, debt levels and down payment. A number of sellers and their agents will not show their homes to people who have not completed this step first. This tends to be all the more important in hotter real estate markets (as Charleston has shown itself to be), as it is a way for sellers and other agents to quickly weed out those who really are interested versus those who are solely lukewarm when it comes to homebuying.
Real estate markets are not set in stone and what looks like a good neighborhood today might change tomorrow (and vice versa). Local jurisdictions may make changes that impact the property values. Sometimes school districts plan for school closings long before the news hits the papers. The safest approach for learning about an unfamiliar area is to rely on a Realtor who is knowledgeable about the neighborhood. This information alone can not only help you reduce stress as well as potential costs, it could be the difference between finding a great location versus years of disappointment when you realize you picked the wrong area of the city to live in.
Falling in Love with a Property
Anytime you base a decision heavily off of emotion, you may not exactly make the best choice. Making emotional decisions about a home is all too easy. If you need a three bedroom home and find a two bedroom you just can’t live without, you could be saddled with something that doesn’t work in a few years. It’s better to hand your real estate agent a list of must-haves and insist that the basics must be met first in the event you do find an unsuitable, but absolutely irresistible property.
Disregarding the Inspection
Before you can close, your lender will require a home inspection to reduce their risk when they fund the loan. Any problems the inspection turns up related to plumbing, wiring, the home’s structure, or the HVAC system can be expensive to repair.
At the very least, you should spend time with your agent when you get the report to learn what the issues are and what it will take to fix them. Realtors will also help you negotiate the seller’s price based on the condition of the home. Depending on its condition, a realtor could help you save thousands.
Overly High Expectations
The perfectly designed home and well maintained yard may exist somewhere; but if each one you visit comes up short, you may need to rethink your expectations. If all else about the homes you’re considering are acceptable to you but you pass because of small issues, you may need a reality check from a seasoned Realtor.
Although there are plenty of checks in place to prevent someone from qualifying for too large a mortgage, once you close, you’re on your own. Be sure to avoid the temptation to invest a lot of money decorating or renovating a property to make it uniquely yours.
It takes a few years to recover your initial investment in a home before you can expect to sell it for a profit. In the meantime, the market may change or the home might require an extensive repair. It’s better overall to settle into a home for a while before investing more into it.
Taking your time will also give you a better sense of its livability, and a foundation for establishing your priorities. Caution will also prevent you from upgrading it too much for the neighborhood, which may not ever increase the home’s value, regardless of its cost.
Throughout the purchasing process, a knowledgeable realtor is the best source you have for valuable information about a home, its condition, and the overall neighborhoods of Charleston. By using their expertise, you’ll avoid the pitfalls that could affect this significant investment down the road.