Our Real Estate Blog
Buying your first home is undoubtedly a long and complex process for someone who has little to no experience in the subject. Your average first-time homeowner learns as they go, with the help of their real estate agent and mortgage lender.
But, even so, first-time buyers often make many mistakes along the way that they could have avoided with prior knowledge and preparation.
In today’s article, we’re going to cover 5 of the most common mistakes that first-time homebuyers make when purchasing a home. From the first house you look at up until closing on your first home, we’ll cover common mistakes from each step of the way to give you the knowledge you need to make the best home buying decisions.
1. Shopping for homes preemptively
Once you decide that you’re interested in potentially buying a home in the near future, it’s tempting to hop online and start looking at listings. But, searching for your dream home at this stage is a poor use of your time.
It’s best to use this time to start thinking about the bigger picture. Have you secured financial aspects of owning a home, such as a down payment, a solid credit score, and two years of steady employment history?
You’ll also need to have a clear picture of what you want your life to look like for the next 5-7 years. Will you still want to live in the same area, or will your job lead you elsewhere?
These are all questions to ask yourself before you start house hunting that will inform your process along the way and make your hunt a lot easier.
2. Not knowing your budget
It’s a common mistake for first-time buyers to go into the house hunting process without a clearly mapped budget. You want to make sure that after all of your expenses (mortgage payment, utilities, bills, debt, etc.) that you still have leftover income for savings, retirement, and an emergency fund.
Make a detailed spreadsheet of your expenses and determine how much you can afford each month before you start shopping for mortgages.
3. Borrowing the maximum amount
While it may be tempting to buy the most expensive house you can get approved for, there are a number of reasons this might be a bad idea for you, financially. Stretching your budget each month is putting yourself at risk for not being able to contribute to savings, retirement, and emergency funds.
Furthermore, you may find that the extra square-footage you purchased wasn’t worth having to cut corners in other areas of your life, like hobbies, entertainment, and dining out.
4. Forgetting important expenses
If you’re currently renting an apartment, you might be unaware of some of the lesser-known costs of homeownership. Your chosen lender will provide you with an estimate of the closing costs, which you’ll have to budget for.
However, there are also maintenance, repairs, utilities, and other bills that you’ll have to figure into your monthly budget.
5. Waiving contingencies or giving the benefit of the doubt
While it may seem like an act of goodwill to give the seller the benefit of the doubt when it comes to things like home inspections, it’s usually a bad idea to waive contingencies.
The process of purchasing a home, along with a purchase contract, have been designed to protect both your interests and the seller’s interests. It isn’t selfish to want to know exactly what you’re getting into when making a purchase as significant as a home.
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Real estate agents sell homes -- but the agent you choose should offer you a comprehensive lineup of services and assistance. If your agent is just a "set it and forget it" seller, you're missing out on the level of service you deserve. Ask any prospective agent about what they have to offer, and compare it to the list below to ensure you are in good hands.
Present the Home Accurately & Well
From the language used to describe your home in listings to the photographs and level of detail attached to the listing, your agent needs to be able to create a compelling listing package that appeals to the right buyers. Simply grabbing a few pictures and picking a price is not enough; they should be able to fully relay how amazing your property is. If they do not have the right approach to listing and presentation, all the marketing in the world won't help. Your agent should also properly qualify buyers -- so you don't end up with a steady stream of visitors, but no actual offers.
Have a Robust Marketing Plan
Marketing means more than just listing the home and putting up a sign; your home should actively appear in listings online and in print. You should see your home on the agent's website and in their social media feeds. Open houses, agent viewings and other events should be part of the plan. If your prospective agent can't tell you how they'll market your home, they may not have a plan at all.
Deliver Bad News
If you're a buyer, your buyer's agent should let the sellers know what issues are preventing you from making an offer, or why you've chosen the figure you have. If you're selling, your agent needs to be able to let you know the things you should change before you list -- or fill you in on agent and buyer reactions to your home. If they can't communicate these details, then you might miss out.
Negotiate on Your Behalf
Your agent needs to be able to negotiate with other professional agents to arrive at a fair price for your home, whether you are the buyer or the seller. Unless your agent is a skilled negotiator, you could come out with less money for your home -- or overpay for a new property. Two skilled agents working together can come up with a solution that works for everyone and ensure you have a seamless transaction.
Listen to Your Concerns
Your agent should fully understand the factors that matter to you most, whether you are buying or selling. From the bottom line amount you have to get from your home to the safeguarding of your pets when the home is shown your agent should listen to you and answer your questions fully. If you don't feel like you are being heard or the agent isn't responding to your needs, you likely need a better match.
Understanding the roles your agent can play and what they should offer you can help you evaluate a REALTOR® and ensure you find your perfect match. You'll be working together for a while, so taking the time to find an agent who cares and delivers will have a huge impact on your home selling or buying experience.
House plants can add color and texture to your home and allow you to bring a touch of nature indoors, but some can also help improve the air quality in your home. According to a study from NASA, choosing one of these plants allows you to enjoy the added beauty and breathe easier at home, too.
5 Plants that Improve Indoor Air Quality
Plants improve indoor air quality by removing or neutralizing chemicals that may be present in the air. Building materials, cleaning products, home furnishings and other items can all release fumes into the home; even if you don’t smell them, you are breathing them in. The following plants are top air purifiers and neutralize a surprising amount of these harmful substances.
- Boston Fern: Fast growing and easy to care for, this textural beauty is also one of the top air purifiers; Boston Fern removes more formaldehyde from the air than any other plant studied. Formaldehyde can appear in upholstery foam, paints, rugs and more.
- Rubber Plants: These potent air cleansers also make wonderful plants for rooms without direct sunlight. If you’re having a tough time finding sunny spots for plants, choose a rubber plant – they can’t bear direct sun, instead preferring the cool comfort of a dimmer room.
- English Ivy: Cultivate this easy care plant if you want to improve your home’s air quality, but don’t have the world’s greenest thumb. Ivy grows quickly and climbs, making it ideal for training to a frame or topiary – it also won’t mind if you forget to water it for a day or more.
- Peace Lily: While most of the potent air purifiers are pure greenery, peace lily has striking white flowers that can help accent your home. This delicate looking purifier is a favorite for bridal bouquets and decorations, and is surprisingly robust for growing in the home, too. Peace lilies do require some attention, but if you are willing to water daily, it could make an elegant and striking air purifier for your home. Skip this one if you have curious pets, though; the leaves can cause stomach upset if eaten.
- Spider Plant: This hearty variety also reproduces swiftly; the babies can be potted and create even more natural purifying power for your home. Spider plants are pet safe, easy to care for and add both color and texture to their décor, making them a natural choice for any home.
Choosing a few plants from the list can help you breathe easy and feel more comfortable at home. Incorporating these easy care plants into your home décor will help have a more natural, greener environment in more ways than one.
From Big Sky, Montana, to Kissimmee, Florida, many Americans crave vacation homes. One feature of a vacation house is that it's typically located as far from home as possible, preferably in another temperature zone, landscape, or climate. The worst part about a vacation home? Finding time away from work to fly out to your choice destination to find a home to call your own. There is an answer, however, and more and more home buyers are giving it a go: It's called remote home buying. We've come up with four solid reasons why you might want to buy your next vacation home remotely:
Location Is No Obstacle
Because you're not investing money in plane tickets or hours flying back and forth between multiple cities, the location of your vacation home isn't limited by time or finances. The world is, quite literally, an option. Odds are excellent that there's a qualified real estate agent available in or nearby the town you're considering. Once you make that connection, your agent will handle the legwork and the heavy lifting.
You Have Nothing But Time
Because you're not taking time away from your responsibilities at home, there's no need to rush into a decision. Every vacation home your agent recommends can be viewed online or viewed real-time via an app such as Skype. You're free to consider multiple options in the search for your perfect vacation home without investing days or weeks away.
The Price Is Right
Buying a vacation home in another state or even in another country can save you tons of money. States such as Texas, where land and homes are abundant, offer terrific deals on real estate. You'll score a vacation home here for much, much less than you would near a city such as Washington, D.C. Property taxes are another reason to consider purchasing a vacation home in another area. You might be surprised to learn that the beautiful islands of Hawaii actually offer the lowest property taxes in America.
The Process Is Easy-Peasy
It's easier to purchase a vacation home remotely than you may realize. Most of the work happens on the other end of the transaction. You don't even have to present for inspections or closing unless you choose to be. Your agent will handle all the nuances of your property purchase. All you have to do is sign documents and wire money.
When you're ready to invest in a new vacation home, consider buying it remotely. You're going to love the ease and convenience of this long-distance transaction.