5 Common First-Time Home Buyer Mistakes You Won’t Want to Make Yourself

By Cathie Ericson | Mar 23, 2017
Chris Whitehead

We all make mistakes the first time we do something, but those mistakes can be doozies for first-time home buyers. For one, these errors are hard to backpedal out of—and worse, they can cost thousands of dollars. And so, in the hopes that you won’t inadvertently step into one of these booby traps, we got some homeowners to spill their guts about what they botched with their first home purchase. Then we got some advice from professionals on how you can avoid the same fate.

Mistake No. 1: Wait, which house did we buy?

“We bought our first home while we were living in San Francisco but moving to Denver. We shopped for homes online, then flew to Colorado for a marathon, three-day house-hunting weekend. After a whirlwind of 18 homes, we chose one. Huge mistake. Once we moved in, it didn’t take us long to realize the layout of the house was impractical, the driveway was buckling, and the carpet looked awful. New issues cropped up constantly.” – Krista Van Lewen, San Francisco, CA

Lesson learned: How much are you going to remember about each house when you look at 18 in a single weekend? Not much.

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“One of the biggest mistakes I see first-time buyers make is rushing into buying their home after only a very brief showing,” says Denver-based Realtor® Luke O’Bryan with the O’Bryan Group.

Whether you’re from out of town or based locally, some markets move so quickly that decisions have to be made on the spot. A second showing is always the best option, but in a pinch, O’Bryan recommends videotaping the home so you can review it later and possibly get a different perspective when you’re less rushed.

Mistake No. 2: The price isn’t right

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“When I bought my first house, I was so eager to close that I offered the asking price for a newly listed property that didn’t have any other offers—even though my agent advised against it. I also didn’t ask for any repairs, although the inspector pointed out some things that I should have requested, so now I’m dealing with a leaky roof.” – Jeff Neil, York, PA

Lesson learned: Buying a home may have plenty of warm and fuzzy aspects, but it’s also a business transaction where you need to leverage everything possible to get the best deal, says David Feldberg, broker/owner of Coastal Real Estate Group in Newport Beach, CA.

If you are a seller’s single offer, know full well that you have the advantage—from the price and terms all the way to repairs the seller should make. Feldberg recommends not getting too emotionally vested in any home until you are done negotiating with the seller, as that can negate your advantage.

Mistake No. 3: Count your chickens before they hatch

“I was pregnant with our first child when we bought a house that seemed fine at the time. However, we now have three small children, and there just isn’t enough space. There is no peaceful spot to have time alone.” – Dusti Reimer, Grand Junction, CO

Lesson learned: Buy for the future, not just for the now, and that means considering any future family growth.

“To avoid getting caught having to sell a home too quickly, think through what needs you are going to have over the next five to 10 years and make those a requirement,” says Feldberg.

Mistake No. 4: Not up to code

“The house we bought was built in the ’50s, and while it had its charm, we discovered after we purchased it that there were several things that previous owners had done on the cheap. The wiring was a mess; there were unfinished closets and floors; and the kitchen only had one electrical outlet. We wound up installing power strips so we could function—which it turns out, is totally against code! While we fixed what we could, it caused us massive heartburn when we started the selling process eight years later.” – Heidi McDow, Oak Point, TX

Lesson learned: Most home buyers don’t take the home inspection seriously enough, but they really should. Accompany your inspector on his rounds so you can see firsthand any flaws—it’s far easier than eyeballing the paperwork he’ll send you later. And even if you’re fine with certain flaws, future home buyers might not be, so take any issues seriously.

Mistake No. 5: Friends, neighbors, enemies

“When I bought my first home, I chose a duplex, thinking I’d rent out one side for guaranteed income to help offset the mortgage payments. I didn’t count on the hassles of landlordship in general, but I made it worse: I rented it to my best friend. So all the pains were magnified. For example, she was always cold, so her husband would call me constantly and insist I jack up the heat. My oil bills became astronomical. Never again have I bought a two-family residence.” – Cynthia MacGregor, West Palm Beach, FL

Lesson learned: “As someone who has owned and leased out many properties, I can tell you firsthand that being a landlord is really tough, and I would never recommend it for a first-time home buyer who probably is just learning how to do basic repairs and manage utility bills,” says Feldberg. And renting to friends is just asking to be enemies. Still can’t give up the dream of having that juicy rental income? Consider a property manager to take the stress off.

Source: http://www.realtor.com


What to Watch for on Your Final Walk-Through of a Home
By Jamie Wiebe | Mar 16, 2016

You’re this close to owning a new home, you can almost taste it. The closing paperwork is prepared, your new digs passed the inspection, and—wonder of wonders—you’re even happy with your loan. Homeownership is just on the other side of the hill.

As long as the final walk-through goes all right.

OK, take a breath—there’s no need to panic. The vast majority of walk-throughs reveal no problems at all, and even if they do, most issues are easily fixed. Still, it can be an awkward, stressful process that can make you want to reach for the Xanax, especially for first-time buyers. Learn what to look for on your last trip through the house before the sellers hand over the keys. Your new keys!

Create a checklist

Before your walk-through, work with your Realtor® and real estate lawyer to create a comprehensive checklist covering all of your concerns with the home—the items that you’d like to see addressed or fixed, pronto. Look at your notes from previous walk-throughs and the inspection report to determine what areas of the house you should double-check.

“Simply having a checklist during final walk-through can greatly reduce any issues,” says Joe Stanfield, a Realtor in Charlotte, NC.

Other things to add to your inspection list include ensuring that all appliances work—make sure to turn them on while you’re in the house—as well as the bathroom plumbing. Check the windows, doors, and all outlets and lights. If anything is amiss, bring it up with the sellers as soon as possible and negotiate a fee the sellers can give you by personal check to cover the costs of fixing it yourself. It’s your last chance. Make it count.

Ensure required repairs were completed

Most sellers are good, ethical people, but you never know if you’re dealing with a sneak (or at least a transitory case of seller amnesia, whose symptoms include the oft-heard line, “Oh, I meant to get to that”) until the final walk-through. After all, the selling process can be hypercomplicated—leaving required repairs unfinished because priorities have been focused elsewhere.

“Sometimes a seller will have indicated that a repair previously negotiated during the due diligence period was completed, but the buyer finds out during the walk-through that it has not,” says Suzette Gray, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker in Charlotte, NC.

She recommends asking for copies of paid invoices for all repairs. If it’s a simple repair—such as patching up drywall or replacing a faucet—ask them to send you a photo of the completed work before the walk-through, “so there are no surprises.”

And while civility is key, this is not the time for preternatural politeness. If you do find something wrong that they’d vowed to address, it’s worth the awkwardness of bringing it up face to face and demanding compensation—after all, a promise is a promise. Right?

Inspect previously hard-to-reach spots

During your final walk-through, inspect everything you couldn’t check out earlier due to lack of time.

“You always want to ensure that you aren’t stuck with problems that were previously hidden from view,” says Seth Stisher from the Seth Realty Team in Charleston, SC.

Did an enormous Persian area rug cover the living room floor before? Was the couch pushed flush against the wall? Take a careful look at the hardwood below for any water damage or rot. This goes double if you’re buying a home with a basement once filled with boxes or clutter. Basements are ground zero for mold, water damage, and other structural issues, and it’s easy for sellers to hide (or miss) problems behind a layer of clutter.

Look for missing items—or secret swaps

Make sure all appliances and fixtures you’d liked during earlier visits are still present—or haven’t undergone a subpar substitution.

“If you were promised a chandelier and now there is an empty socket, that’s not going to fly,” says Janine Acquafredda, a Realtor in Brooklyn, NY. Basically anything connected to the home by plugs or pipes should stay—or if the sellers intended to keep something other than their furniture and belongings, it should be specified in the contract. Swapping out the bronze cabinet pulls for mediocre chrome replacements isn’t OK, either, and you have every right to demand them reinstated before the home changes hands.

Don’t panic over a little dirt

You might be expecting a picture-perfect, Architectural Digest–ready home, with polished hardwood floors and shining countertops—but few real estate contracts mandate those expectations, instead asking for the place to be “broom clean.” Which does not mean “scrubbed within an inch of its life.”

Usually that’s your job. Sorry.

“Everyone has a different definition of broom clean, and if the place is a little dirty it’s not the end of the world,” says Koki Adasi, a Realtor with Koki & Associates in Silver Springs, MD. Don’t stress over minor problems such as scratches in the hardwood or marks on the walls. It’s certainly not worth raising a fuss over—not only will it annoy the sellers, but chances are you’ll cause more damage during move-in.

Speaking of: With your final walk-through completed and closing paperwork signed, you’ve got only one step left: moving in to your new home. Really.
Jamie Wiebe writes about home design and real estate for realtor.com. She has previously written for House Beautiful, Elle Decor, Real Simple, Veranda, and more. Pick the Right House For You
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Source http://www.realtor.com