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8 First Time Home Buyer Mistakes To Avoid

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Buying your first home can be an exciting adventure. That said, the journey can be full of expensive pitfalls. That might be why there aren’t many searching the market. According to Statista, the percentage of first time US home buyers in 2022 was 26%; in contrast, it was 34% in 2021.

If you’re worried about making first time home buyer mistakes, then you’ve come to the right place! There are many critical errors that you can avoid with enough tact and patience. Plus, there are ways to bounce back if these problems occur. Here are eight of the scariest first time home buyer mistakes and what you can do to address them!

1. You don’t get pre-approval before shopping for houses.

One of the biggest first time home buyer mistakes is to shop first and prep later. People get so excited at the thought of owning a house that they already start looking online. The problem is that many of them either forget or neglect to get pre-approval for potential mortgages. Remember, properties can cost a lot; without the right prep, you risk hampering your finances in the future.

first time home buyer mistakes contract

Why is it dangerous?

The main reason you must have preapproval is to secure your deal quickly and smoothly. Pre-approval makes the process of buying and owning a house faster, especially if you have a steady income and good credit history. Without pre-approval, you’re essentially going blind when negotiating deals. Without a clear picture of what you can afford, you’ll likely be skipped over for other offers.

What should I do instead?

Getting approved can help you avoid multiple first time home buyer mistakes, especially with your finances. For starters, it helps you determine how much you can afford for a house. It also shows the sellers that you’re serious about your offer. Even if you don’t buy a house right away, pre-approval will make the eventual purchase smoother and simpler.

2. You focus only on the house and not the neighborhood.

When you think of first time home buyer mistakes, you might be laser-focused on the house. You’d want it to be perfect, right? However, the property isn’t the only thing you should consider. Among the worst first time home buyer mistakes you can make is neglecting the neighborhood. Even if you end up in a nice home, it’ll hard to enjoy if you don’t feel happy or safe in the street it’s located in.

Why is it dangerous?

To help people avoid first time home buyer mistakes, real estate agents always focus on one aspect: location. Beyond price and availability, the area you live in can make a big difference. Choosing the right neighborhood can help foster a happier home life. Imagine staying somewhere with nice neighbors and clean air. If your house is in a nice environment, it’ll flourish.

first time home buyer mistakes dangerous

What should I do instead?

The key to preventing all first time home buyer mistakes, especially this one, is research. You have to study the area of your potential homes. Look at the prices and the statistics around the area. Consider the crime rate, the weather, the distance from your house to other places, and so on. By understanding the area, you’ll know if it’s worth spending that much money on the house. Otherwise, you’ll regret these first time home buyer mistakes.

3. You don’t explore first-time homebuyer programs.

Studies on millennial homeowners should that 11% of them regret not making a bigger down payment. They feel that by putting down less, they end up making more first time home buyer mistakes with their finances Interestingly, the rest don’t seem to have the same problem.

first time home buyer mistakes Consult

One reason why is that those looking to avoid first time home buyer mistakes check homebuyer programs. These programs, sponsored either by government institutions or private organizations, offer plenty of benefits for those wanting a home. By exploring these, you can save yourself from a financial nightmare and still enjoy a nice and comfy abode.

Why is it dangerous?

If someone gave you $1000 to help you reach your goals, would you turn it away? The issue is that many people are unaware of these programs. Because of that, they make multiple first time home buyer mistakes. Worse yet, these are solutions you can easily explore online or with a professional. By ignoring a program that can help you secure your dream home, you’re basically tying an anchor to your financial goals.

What should I do instead?

As mentioned before, research is key. If you want a program that helps you avoid or push through first time home buyer mistakes, you need to study up. Speak to a mortgage lender or a real estate expert about programs in your state. For example, Federal Housing Administration loans require a minimum down payment of 3.5%, certain conventional loan programs can go as low as 3%. It’s always better to know the option exists to streamline your finances and plan your next move!

4. You underestimate homeownership costs.

Among the worst first time home buyer mistakes is the cost. No, not about the cost of the house, although that should be considered. Those who suffer from first time home buyer mistakes often talk about the cost of homeownership. This includes mortgage payments, utility bills, construction expenses, and the like.

first time home buyer mistakes check

Why is it dangerous?

While you’re learning about first time home buyer mistakes, remember that buying a house isn’t the endgoal. Once that phase is over, now you have to handle life as a homeowner. This means planning your monthly and yearly expenses accordingly. There are many costs to consider and this can be overwhelming, especially if you’re not prepared.

What should I do instead?

To avoid first time home buyer mistakes like this, it’s always good to examine your finances ahead. Beyond the purchase of the house, you must consider the cost of living. Look at your monthly expenses or at the expenses of homeowners you know. It’ll give you a good idea of what to expect. While you may need to sacrifice some luxuries, it’s better than paying the price of first time home buyer mistakes.

5. You don’t inspect the house before purchase.

Before buying a house, it’s important to have an inspection. Some of the worst first time home buyer mistakes, like paying for renovations or discovering your house isn’t ideal, can be avoided this way. A thorough inspection can reveal a lot, especially if the house seems perfect at first glance. You’d be surprised how many homeowners have suffered from structural damages, pest problems, and foundational issues.

first time home buyer mistakes inspection

Why is it dangerous?

The reason why it’s one of the most dangerous first time home buyer mistakes is the outcome. Imagine you buy what looks like a fresh batch of eggs, only to discover that they’re rotten and useless. Not only do you lose the food, but now you’ve wasted your money. First time home buyer mistakes can be costly to your finances, not to mention damaging to your confidence and determination.

What should I do instead?

To avoid this and other first time home buyer mistakes, professionals must be consulted. In this case, make sure you’re working with a trustworthy and dedicated home inspector. You can ask friends and family for references. Make sure to check their licenses and certifications, too. That way, you’ll feel safe in trusting their report and use that info to negotiate a better deal or, if necessary, walk away entirely.

6. You don’t build emergency funds.

Paying for a house is tough enough. Paying for living expenses can be even tougher. Now, imagine that something tragic has happened. For instance, you end up losing your job or your home gets burnt down. It’s a devastating setback, and some people feel even worse when they suffer from first time home buyer mistakes. In this case: they don’t have emergency funds before owning the house.

first time home buyer mistakes save

Why is it dangerous?

Real talk: emergency funds are a vital asset that many people neglect. Bankrate has done an annual emergency savings report since 2014. The 2022 survey found that 57% of Americans did not feel safe with their emergency savings amount. Worse yet, 22% of them did not have any. Now, imagine if they suffered from any of the other first time home buyer mistakes. The struggle to pay it all off would be difficult, as well as frightening.

What should I do instead?

Always start by saving some cash in a place, whether a piggy bank or a digital account, to be used ONLY for emergencies. Experts recommend having at least three months’ worth of expenses for your emergency budget.  Building it now, especially before buying a house, will keep you secure for any unexpected expenses. 

first time home buyer mistakes cost

Plus, beyond first time home buyer mistakes, an emergency fund is a safety net to help you shoulder the cost of any disaster or accident. Better to be safe than sorry, right?

7. You spend most–or all–of your savings for the downpayment.

Look online and you’ll find many people expressing horror stories about their first time home buyer mistakes. One of the most common and dangerous is spending all their savings. While a bidding war can be tough, a house shouldn’t drain your finances completely.

Why is it dangerous?

At first glance, you might defend the idea of spending most or all of your money for a house. It’s an investment, right? However, the reasons it’s among the worst first time home buyer mistakes is the aftermath. You lose most of your money, which you spent time building. Now, you’ll be shouldering the burden of paying for the house, the cost of living, and other expenses. Even if your house is a worthwhile investment, it should not be what you sink all your money into.

What should I do instead?

Firstly, always be reasonable about the price you’re willing to pay. Many first time home buyer mistakes come from underestimating or overlooking the cost of things. When negotiating a down payment, always look for an acceptable price.

first time home buyer mistakes money

Also, be conscious of your financial situation before choosing a property. Living within or just under your means can do a lot for your wallet. Lastly, to avoid this and other first time home buyer mistakes, make an emergency fund for any and all outcomes.

8. You don’t consult or work with a real estate agent.

All of the first time home buyer mistakes mentioned so far are costly, dangerous, and stressful to deal with. However, this mistake could be the reason you suffer from all the others. A real estate agent is your guide to the housing market. Like Indiana Jones, they can lead you to safety and avoid all the pitfalls you face. Even if you know real estate, the experts have years of experience ahead of you.

Why is it dangerous?

Again, all of the first time home buyer mistakes covered can be avoided with the help of a good real estate agent. The right one can help you find the right home in the right spot at the right price. Plus, even if you don’t suffer from any first time home buyer mistakes, an agent is a great source of knowledge. They can set up private negotiations, explore better mortgage rates, and be the mediator for all negotiations.

What should I do instead?

Look for a great real estate agent, obviously! Jokes aside, it is important to know who to trust for advice. Take time to explore and research different agents, especially those with years of experience. See if they’ve helped people you know or dealt with those fearful of first time home buyer mistakes. That way, you’ll feel safe knowing they can keep you from falling for any costly errors.

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  • One of the biggest mistakes for first-time home buyers is not getting pre-approval for a mortgage before shopping for houses, which can lead to financial problems and missed opportunities.
  • Neglecting to consider the neighborhood when buying a house is a common mistake, as the location plays a significant role in overall satisfaction and quality of life.
  • Exploring first-time homebuyer programs is essential to avoid financial pitfalls and enjoy benefits offered by government or private organizations.
  • Underestimating the costs associated with homeownership is a dangerous mistake, as it can lead to financial strain and unexpected expenses.
  • Failing to have a thorough house inspection before purchase can result in costly surprises such as structural issues or pest problems.
  • Not building emergency funds before owning a house is a risky mistake, as unforeseen circumstances can lead to financial hardships.
  • Spending all or most of your savings for the down payment is a dangerous mistake that leaves you financially vulnerable and unable to handle other expenses.
  • Not consulting or working with a real estate agent can lead to multiple mistakes, as they provide expertise and help avoid costly errors.

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