New generation…same old financial mistakes. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Chances are good, your parents didn’t take you and your siblings aside to share the finer details of the sale or purchase of your family home when you were growing up. Hey — I get it! Mortgage terms and price-per-square-foot are details lost on adolescent minds, but now that you are ready for #adulting, it’s time to figure out how this stuff works so you can do your home purchase right. Here are 5 mistakes home buyers often make — but you can avoid!
Starting your home search before pre-qualifying for a mortgage. You check your bank balance before hitting the grocery store, right? Don’t go shopping for a home before you’ve lined up home financing. And not a guesstimate, but an official letter from a mortgage company stating your qualification to purchase a home up to $XX with XYZ terms. Don’t fall in love with a house you can’t afford, or a house you’ll lose out on to another buyer because your financing isn’t in place yet.
Shopping without a list. If you had all the time and money in the world, you could shop and shop (and shop) for your home, and wait until you find the perfect home before making an offer. In the real world, there is probably competition in the marketplace, and you should shop with a top 5 list of non-negotiable wants and needs, including factors like the number of bedrooms and/or bathrooms, square footage, location, lot size, car storage, and possibly amenities like a gourmet kitchen, finished basement or fireplace.
Buying for right now — without thinking about 3-5-7 years from now. When you are ready take your first steps as a homeowner, think beyond your housing needs this month, this year, or even next year. Ideally, you’ll purchase a home you are likely to be happy in for 5+ years. Circumstances may change, and you might move on from this home before 5 or more years have passed, but you want to buy a home to suit your needs long enough that you’ll be able to gain equity over time, and if you buy a home and end up selling it a couple of years down the road, you may miss out on the maximum equity potential of the property.
Overbuying. You might qualify for a $450k mortgage, but does that mean you should buy a house for that amount? Not necessarily. Buy the best house you can afford, that will put you at a monthly payment you are comfortable with. Don’t max out your home purchase just to spend; max out your checklist items and the long term potential of your home purchase, and make sure you leave enough wiggle room in your ongoing budget to make the updates you want to in your new home, too.
Underbuying. By the same token, if you qualify for the same $450k and buy a lackluster 1 bedroom condo in a so-so neighborhood out of fear — you are selling yourself (or is that buying yourself…) short. Run the numbers, and certainly don’t set yourself up for failure a year or two from now if you can’t pay the monthly mortgage, but if you are too conservative in your purchase, the tiny pad you buy now might not meet your needs 2-3 years down the road, and you won’t have had time to build much equity in the property before it’s time to sell and move onward and upward.
Are you looking for a guide to help you find a great deal on the right home for you? I’ve been in the Denver Real Estate game for over 20 years, and I’m here to help. Drop me a line to let me know how I can make your home purchase plans a reality.