Buyer beware — Common pitfalls to avoid when purchasing a home

Buying a home is not only a large financial investment, it’s also a significant emotional investment. With so much at stake, the process deserves your undivided attention. To ensure that buying a home goes as smoothly as possible, it’s wise to learn from the mistakes of others and avoid common home buying errors. Here is a list of six common pitfalls to avoid when purchasing a home.

Falling for a Home Before Your Finances Are in Order — Nearly all REALTORS® will give you the same advice when it comes to beginning your search for a new home — make sure you have your mortgage pre-approval in place. This will prevent you from falling for a home outside of your budget, thereby helping to safeguard you from disappointment. It will also save you time, as your REALTOR® will be able to find the greatest selection of homes that meet your needs, within your price range.

Attempting to Buy a Home Without a REALTOR® Representing You — Many people do buy homes without the advocacy of a buyer’s agent. However, it’s not recommended for first-time or relatively inexperienced buyers. This is because there are so many moving parts in a real estate transaction, that even small missteps can lead to missing out on the perfect home. Because REALTORS® spend every day immersed in the process of buying and selling homes, they offer a wealth of information. From knowledge of various neighborhoods, to premium negotiating skills, to advocating for various improvements or concessions, having a reputable buyer’s agent working on your behalf is in your best interest.

Buying the Most Expensive Home You Can Afford — There’s something to be said for exercising a little financial restraint when it comes to buying a home. In other words, it’s not necessarily in your best interest to buy a home that totally maxes out your spending power. Instead, consider keeping a bit of money on hand, for things like upgrades, or unplanned expenses such as having to replace a furnace or hot water heater.

Buying a Home You Don’t Like — In effort to secure a foothold in the real estate market, many first-time homebuyers purchase homes that they just really don’t like. This should be avoided at all costs. That’s not to say that your first home must be your dream home, but you should find more things you love about it, than things you dislike. Buying a home, just because you can, or feel like you need to, can lead to buyer’s remorse or resentment. Make sure you can truly see yourself living in a home and enjoying it before you make an offer.

Purchasing a Home When You Plan to Move Again Soon — Life happens, and there is no way to fully anticipate every possible scenario, such as having to move because of a sudden job transfer. However, if you know for certain that you’re planning to move within a relatively short period of time, it’s not in your best interest to buy a home, only to live in for a very short time. Doing so can lead to losing money, particularly if the market declines during the time you’re in the home, or if you’ve purchased with a no money down loan.

Buying Without a Home Inspection — Different states have different laws on housing inspections. However, no matter where you live, you should never miss the opportunity to have a full inspection conducted to confirm the home you’re planning to purchase is foundationally, electrically, and structurally sound. Buying a home without having a full understanding of potential problems is unwise in all cases. Insist upon a home inspection before you buy.

Buying a home should be an exciting experience, not an emotionally or financially exhaustive endeavor. In effort to enjoy the process, it is smart to engage the services and expertise of a licensed real estate agent, who can answer any questions you have, negotiate on your behalf, safeguard you from potential delays and missed opportunities, and educate you along the way. With an ally working on your behalf, the process of finding and buying a home can be a lot of fun, and there’s a good chance you’ll make a friend along the way.