There are plenty of “dos” during the house-hunting process, but don’t forget about the “don’ts.” Some key missteps could cause an offer to fall through, or worse – a deal itself.
Avoid these big pitfalls, and you’ll keep the house-hunting process going as smooth as possible.
1. Braving the real estate market on your own.
Trust us: Just don’t do it.
The Internet makes the home-search process easier than ever, but the home-buying process is much more complicated. A real estate agent will have the expertise needed to work with contracts, offers, and the nuances of the process.
2. Ditching your budget.
You’ve likely already been pre-approved for a loan and know what your budget is. Don’t let the stress and emotion of buying a home push you to overextend yourself.
3. Making big purchases or life changes during the home-buying process.
Big changes to your credit or income can put a wrench in your ability to get a loan, so you want to keep things as stable as possible until the deal is closed.
Try not to change jobs, and avoid making huge purchases on credit (like buying a new car) or applying for a new credit card.
If your home-buying process is extended, and one or more of these moves becomes necessary, be sure to talk it over with your agent so you know what the consequences might be.
4. Not asking about utilities and HOA fees
You’ll want to know monthly costs in addition to mortgage, so make sure to ask about utilities and HOA fees for condos.
What does a water, electric, or gas bill normally look like? What do HOA fees include, and how much are they? The answers might influence whether you want to offer.
Don’t forget to make sure you can access all the utilities you want, too. Is the house wired for broadband Internet and cable? What providers run there?
You’ve probably been focused on your mortgage, but other factors will drive that monthly cost up, too. You don’t want to be facing surprises while the ink is still wet on your contracts.
5. Forgetting to factor in closing costs.
Make sure you’ve talked with your agent about all the costs you’ll need to have on hand at closing – beyond just the down payment.
There are a number of fees that might pop up, so you don’t want to be caught off guard.
6. Waiving a home inspection
This one’s tricky, because waiving a home inspection can be a necessity in hot housing markets where the competition is steep. So, whatever you do: Either get a pre-inspection or add a full inspection contingency.
Home inspections might cost you a chunk of change right now, but they’re worth it in the short-term and long-term. They could save you major grief later, and they can put you in a better position to negotiate now.