There's a first time for everything—so when it comes to buying a home for the first time, you're bound to make a mistake or two. There's a learning curve to making purchases on this scale, but many homebuyers before you have made some mistakes so that you don't have to.
Here are six common first-time homebuyer mistakes you can avoid yourself.
Shortchanging Your Inspection
Sometimes in the excitement of putting in an offer on a house, first-time homebuyers might neglect to put time and effort into getting a quality, thorough home inspection. The property perhaps has won you over, and you assume there couldn't possibly be anything wrong with it. But much of what a qualified, professional home inspector will discover in his or her time in your potential new home is beyond surface-level. If you don't hire a vetted, licensed, recommended home inspector or skip the process all together, you could be setting yourself up for costly repairs in the long run. And this goes for the inspector's report, too—take the findings seriously and put some time into discussing the potential consequences of any red flags.
Not Shopping Around
Not all mortgages are built alike—and though many varieties of home loans are going to be the same or very similar across the board when it comes to terms and rates, banks and credit unions may offer perks to win you over. If you only investigate one lender, you may miss out on opportunities to have your fees waived or other benefits offered by a particular local bank or credit union. Make sure you shop around when it comes to hunting for the best mortgage options.
Emptying Savings Accounts
Though it might be tempting to drain your savings account to maximize your downpayment during a homebuying process, having some funds stashed away could be incredibly helpful once you become a homeowner. Now that you own a property, you're responsible for repairs and any maintenance that may be required. Having savings available to cover unforeseen expenses your first few months of being a homeowner can be a big stress relief. Consider other options when it comes to covering a downpayment—check out SDHDA's Downpayment Assistance Program for starters.
Opening Other Loans
How should you celebrate securing a new home loan or finding your perfect place to live? Well, financing another big purchase or racking up fresh credit card debt is not the way to go. Many first-time homebuyers don't realize that it's a bad idea to add new debts or open new loans before you've closed on your new house. Because your credit report is pulled once more before closing to confirm your financial situation hasn't changed since you were first preapproved, this can signal a shift that could derail the closing process. Wait until after you have that key in your hand to start making any big furniture or appliance purchases.
Cutting Out the Agent
When you first decide you're ready to purchase a home, it can be tempting to do a drive around your ideal neighborhoods in search of "for sale" signs, or to start doing your own research in online listings. But just because you can contact a potential seller yourself, doesn't mean you should. A real estate agent knows more about a property and its history than you're able to find online—work with one to get the full details of a potential home. Your agent will then facilitate the conversation with the seller and seller's agent from there. Make sure to have the professional touch rather than making the phone call blindly.
Falling for a House
It can be easy to fall in love with a house—particularly if you've been searching for the perfect place for weeks or even months. But, while getting excited is part of the fun of the home search, don't put all your eggs in one basket. Falling in love with a specific place and then being outbid or finding out some negative things about the state of the property in the home inspection can be tough to swallow. Make sure that, even once you've found what you think will be "the one," you're still keeping your eyes open for potential backups.