Buying your first home is an exciting adventure! It can also be a lesson in hard knocks as real estate newbies figure out how it all works on the journey toward buying the right home in the right neighborhood at the right price. In hindsight, there are typically a few things first time buyers would do differently if they had a handy dandy time machine to take them back to the beginning of the home buying process.
Learn from these common mistakes and wish-I-wouldas of first time buyers before you sign on the dotted line.
- I wish we would have gotten to know the neighborhood better before we bought the house. Without actually living in the home and neighborhood, you can’t know every single nuance of life in that location. But you can do a little side research to increase the odds of landing in a place you’ll love to call home. Take your dog on a leisurely stroll through the neighborhood. Drive by in the morning, afternoon and evening. Stop by a few neighbor’s homes to introduce yourself and ask them about pet peeves and favorite aspects of the neighborhood. Beyond crime statistics, school districts and nearby amenities, a little detective work can go a long way in helping you get to know a potential neighborhood before you buy.
- I wish we would have paid more attention to the other costs associated with home ownership. Beyond PITI (principle, interest, taxes and property insurance), there are additional costs to home ownership you need to include in budgetary planning. These may include home owner’s association (HOA) dues, private mortgage insurance, utility expenses, home repairs and maintenance, and other potential costs like a home security system.
- We made several offers on homes we liked before we landed our house. I wish we had been better prepared for disappointment along the way. The Metro Denver real estate market is fast paced and seller-oriented right now, and not every accepted offer makes it to the closing table. It is tempting to fall in love with a house and begin to envision your life there, but with as many as 1 in 5 deals falling through, don’t mentally “move in” until the ink is dry on the closing docs. It’s okay to be optimistic, but that bright-eyed optimism should be tempered with reality, too.
- Our house was perfect for two years. Five years in and this is tight quarters for our growing family! There is nothing wrong with settling into a cozy starter home, and buying is almost always a financially savvier choice than renting. If possible, it makes good fiscal sense to buy for long term livability, not just the now. Don’t overbuy – if you and your partner have a cat, you may not need a five bedroom McMansion in the suburbs. If you know you’ll have a family or maybe host your aging parents as roomies in the next five or ten years, think past a one or two bedroom place and consider how your needs may change in the future.
- Our Realtor wasn’t as experienced as we thought. We wish we would have asked more questions. Read more about finding the best professional to represent you in a real estate transaction here. It’s important to ask thoughtful questions. Not all Realtors have the same level of experience, neighborhood knowledge or negotiating skill. Choosing an experienced Realtor is up to you, and there is more than likability to consider. I’ve learned a lot in my 22 years in the Denver real estate market. As a home buyer in this marketplace, you need savvy representation – not a newbie still figuring things out or a part time Realtor who closes a deal or two a year.
If you are seeking a knowledgeable guide in the hot Metro Denver real estate market, I’d be happy to lend a hand. I’ve been helping people buy and sell homes in the greater Denver area for 22 years, and it would be my pleasure to put my experience to work for you.
The Meyers Group