Buying your first home brings a lot of emotions. With so many considerations and processes to navigate, it's easy to get tripped up in details and make costly errors. Here's how to avoid some common missteps:
DON'T SKIP HOME LOAN QUALIFICATION
Once you decide to buy a home, it's tempting to start touring properties right away. Instead, make your first stop a lending office. Figure out how much you qualify to borrow before wasting your own time and that of a seller. You don't want to sign a contract only to discover the bank won't loan you the necessary funds.
KNOW WHAT YOU CAN AFFORD
Many first-timers fail to budget properly, often confusing what they can afford with what lenders tell them they qualify to borrow. If you haven't already, make a list of your monthly expenses before settling on a house budget.
DON'T FOCUS TOO MUCH ON THE FLAWS
It's fun to dream about the items on your wish list, but some first-timers have a hard time compromising to meet their budgets. Don't let outdated features steer you away from a house that otherwise meets your criteria. On the other hand, don't compromise on your must-haves.
DON'T FALL BLINDLY IN LOVE
You think you find "the one" and immediately develop an emotional connection to it, never mind the leaky roof and creaky floors. You jump to put in an offer, but your real estate agent urges you to reconsider.
At that point, take heed. Falling head over heels for a home can blind you to its true value or flaws that should be deal-breakers.
DON'T WAIT TOO LONG
Today's housing market is competitive. If you spend too much time debating whether to put in an offer, a quicker buyer may snatch up the house you've been eyeing.
DON'T SKIP THE HOME INSPECTION
Once a seller accepts your offer, you may be tempted to fast-forward the process and skip the home inspection, but it's important to know if the house is in solid shape. Aside from helping to identify any major structural flaws, a home inspection can help you budget for future maintenance issues. Consider it a "new home" orientation.
KEEP RESALE IN MIND
It might seem preposterous to think about selling a house you haven't yet purchased, but experts recommend planning ahead. Many buyers don't factor in features that could affect a home's resale value, like number of bedrooms or whether it has a garage or basement, or if the home will suit their future needs, which is a common mistake.
Even if you're not planning to have children, a home's location within a coveted school district often leads to a higher resale value down the line.
Amanda Bell is a reporter for Angie's List, a trusted provider of local consumer reviews and an online marketplace of services from top-rated providers. Visit AngiesList.com.
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