1. Getting caught up with looking at homes before meeting with a lender. Solution: Contact a Lender first! Wait, can’t I go right out and start touring homes I see on the Internet? No, do first things first. You need to contact a Lender at least by phone and have the Lender evaluate whether you can qualify and determine your purchasing power. You will also need a “Loan Status Report” from a qualified lender to accompany your offer in many cases. Without this critical first step, nothing else matters unless you are an all cash buyer.
2. Looking all over town at too many houses. Solution: Decide where you want to live. Narrowing your area choice down to the zip code, if possible, will save you countless wasted hours of looking at houses. Distance to work, schools, shopping, etc. should be considered. Drive around the various communities before looking at specific houses. Then make a decision! If you don’t find a house a in your price range you can expand your area at that time.
3. Reducing your choices with too many home features. Solution: Narrow your “Must Haves.” A big mistake buyers make is wanting too many things or what I call the “dream home” syndrome. Unless you are actually building your dream home new, you will be settling for an existing home. Things like square footage, number of beds/baths, and floor plan are important. Items such as type of carpet, countertops, paint, etc. are not as important as all those things can be changed to your taste over time.
4. Diminishing your ability to close on a property. Solution: Prepare Financially. Many homebuyers, especially first time home buyers, do not prepare financially to purchase a home. In ADDITION to your down payment, you need to have cash on hand to pay for some up front, non-reimbursable items such as home/termite inspection and the appraisal. Then you will need cash to close, with 3% of the purchase price a good estimate. Be sure to protect your credit during this time by not opening any new accounts or making any large purchases.
5. Wasting everyone’s time making inappropriate offers. Solution: Know the market! This is where you combine your own Internet research with the expertise of your Buyer’s Agent. Web sites such as this one can help you see what is for sale in your price range. However, before making an offer you need to see a statistical analysis of that neighborhood or area so that you can make an intelligent offer. Depending on the market, an appropriate and winning offer can be less than, equal to, or even greater than the asking price!
David Whitehead is a professional Buyer’s Agent specializing in helping clients buy homes in the St. George and Washington County, Utah areas. Contact David at 435-632-2900 for a no-obligation buyer consultation.
* Special thanks for contributions from Brett Woolley, Boulter Properties, Gilbert, AZ.