Love at first sight happens, especially when you're house hunting. That kind of attraction can be exhilarating and exciting, but it can also be excruciatingly painful if it does not last, or if it ends in disappointment either before or after you actually call a home your own.
Rather than hoping to be swept off your feet by the perfect home, it might be better to look for the type of home in which you can build a lasting relationship by getting familiar with one another over time. The analogy isn't perfect, but you get the point. A home that you can grow to like -- a lot -- while living together might not be a stunner in the short term. It might, in fact, have some flaws that you will want to address. But it is often wiser to seek the potential in a home rather than perfection, and to consider long-term home suitability rather than short-term infatuation.
By keeping your options open and focusing on the possible during your home search, you should be able to realize the dream of home ownership while being true to your initial search criteria. It's an investment of time and energy, as well as money. Buying a home is also the largest single investment most people make. Make it a wise choice.
Here are some tips for avoiding common first time home buyer frustrations:
Know Your Home Buying Limits
Thinking you can afford a certain price and actually being pre-qualified for a specific amount are two different things. Today, it is always better to make pre-qualification your first priority, especially if you're a first time home buyer. Not only will it save heartache by putting a dollar limit on your home buying dreams, it will save time and allow you to make a confident offer when you find that special property.
Approach Your Home Search with a Plan
Connecting with a reputable real estate agent sooner than later can save you time, money, and frustration - especially when inventory is tight. Don't delay!
House hunting is a task that requires time and effort, whether your move takes you across town or across the country. Assess your options. If it's a long-distance move, weigh the pros and cons of renting for a period of time as you settle in to new surroundings. At the very least, do some "homework" in advance. Read about neighborhoods, talk to locals, gather information.
Don't ever expect to find your new home in a single day. That really only happens on television! In fact, you might have to submit multiple offers before you reach a binding contract, especially in a competitive real estate market.
Expand Your Home Search
We all know the mantra, "Location, Location, Location." In real estate, it is true that location usually trumps everything. But, don't limit your home search to a single neighborhood or suburb. Instead, be honest about your requirements, whether they include a prime school district, access to parks and playgrounds, a dramatic view, easy commute or a community close to weekend fun and entertainment.
We can tell you from experience, that most buyers looking for their first home do not end-up purchasing in the area they initially started their search.
The key about "location" is to be flexible, and to make decisions based upon accurate information and realistic expectations. Home buyers who remain fixated on a particular area, are much more likely to make mistakes and/or overextend themselves financially.
Look Below the Surface
Whether you like what you see or not, take the time to look at the home's structure in addition to its facade. Beware of the beautiful trappings of a builder's model home and know which features are standard and which are upgrades at additional cost. Look at the architecture. Measure room sizes and consider the physical layout to assure that the home will suit your needs, accommodate your furniture and reflect your style.
Tally the Cost of Homeownership
The mortgage might represent the largest chunk of your housing budget, but there are a myriad of costs of home ownership that you must not forget, in addition to taxes and insurance.
Investigate HOA dues, including any special assessments, community memberships, transportation costs, energy efficiency and prevailing rates for utilities, and the area's cost of living.
Also add in any one-time charges -- for new furniture, a lawnmower, planned improvements, landscaping and general upkeep. Lastly, don't forget to set aside some of the budget for routine home maintenance expenses. Not keeping up with regular maintenance is a common first-time homeowner mistake, which will potentially cost many thousands of dollars when it comes time to sell.
Are You Handy? Don't Overestimate Abilities
Many homes require some work, and you will want to add personal touches. But don't plan to take on tasks that are beyond your abilities and your stated budget. Living in a "fixer-upper" is not fun, and buying a house that becomes a "money pit" is not wise.
In Home Buying Patience is a Virtue
It's a kindergarten lesson that has applications for house hunters as well. Buying a home is a long-term commitment. Know that even if your search extends longer than you wish, it is wise not to make a snap decision - patience is required.
When seeking to buy your first home, prepare to be tugged in different directions, but then resolve to let your mind rule over the heart. Recognize that your emotional desire to move and be settled in a new home might not be the best option, and that paying rent for another six months may be smarter than committing to a mortgage on a home that won't fulfill your needs. Finally, get your financial affairs in order before you begin your search, and you'll be less likely to be disappointed.
Rely Upon Your Full-Service Real Estate Agent!
One of the best ways to avoid common home buying pitfalls is to work with a knowledgeable and reputable real estate broker. Don't wait to connect with a reputable agent. You will find that most agents value the relationship, and are with you for the long-haul - whether you buy next week, or next year. Simply be honest about your wants and needs, and your time frame - and be sure to share your "wish list" as well as a "must have" list with your agent.
Keeping in mind the above... you'll be well prepared for the house hunt, and on your way to your buying your first home.
The Ashton Real Estate Group of RE/MAX Advantage
The #1 Real Estate Team in Tennessee and #4 RE/MAX team in the world!