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5 Common Missteps for First-Time Home Buyers

Marni Epstein-MervisOctober 21, 2018

Deciding to buy a home is exciting and scary at the same time. On one hand, you’re starting a new chapter of your life in a place you’ll get to make all your own. On the other hand, buying a home is one of the biggest purchases you’ll ever make, and the last thing you want to do is get in over your head.

Just because you’re a first-timer doesn’t mean you have to jump in blind. To help your first home buying experience go as smoothly as possible, here are a few common missteps to avoid when home shopping.

1. Waiting for Spring

It might be tempting to wait until it’s warm out, but don’t wait for the spring to wade into homeownership. Buying a home during winter months is a great idea for a couple reasons. One, there’s less competition. Housing market trends vary from city to city, but there are generally fewer people looking to buy from December through March, which can give you the upper hand when it comes to negotiating. Two, potential tax perks. First-time homeowners may be able to deduct interest paid on a mortgage if the loan is used to buy or improve a first or second home (consult a tax professional to confirm eligibility). That means you may potentially see returns on an entire year’s worth of mortgage interest if you close in January. Not bad!

2. Thinking Your Mortgage Is Your Only Expense

Depending on real estate trends in your area and your local cost of living, you will likely pay less for a mortgage than you would for rent. However, many first-time buyers overlook other expenses that go along with homeownership: closing costs, maintenance costs, taxes, insurance, and home owner association fees A big misstep for first-time home buyers is remember that your “mortgage” never really just consists of your mortgage. Run the numbers carefully to make sure you can afford the life you want in the home you want. Before you make an offer, add up everything from utilities to groceries to make sure your expected cost of living fits in your budget.

3. Buying Too Much House

Forgetting to consider the real cost of your home’s size can be a huge mistake, as well. Sure, buying a big home sounds great, but unless you’re preparing for a family within the next year or two, you may not need all that space. Remember that with extra square footage comes the extra costs of furnishing, heating and cooling it as well. Those costs can add up fast. There’s nothing worse than buying a home and then realizing that you only have the resources to furnish half of it. Find a size that suits your needs – and your wallet.

4. Not Hiring a Real Estate Agent

“Do I really need a real estate agent to buy a home?” is a question that many first-time buyers ask when they start looking at homes. While most of us Google our way to wisdom in the internet age, thinking you can transform into a real estate pro with a few months of online research is a misstep that could cost you big money – or the home of your dreams. It takes extensive experience to navigate all the paperwork, negotiations and ins and outs of a real estate transaction. Bringing in a real estate expert who you can trust is key when it comes to your first home purchase. Your real estate agent will assist you in figuring out your finances and help you score the best price on a home. Best of all, there’s no charge until you close. With so much on the line, it pays to have an expert on your side.

5. Not Considering the Neighborhood

You’ll want to pick a neighborhood that fits your needs now* and* when it comes time for a future sale. That means you’ll want to pay close attention to the pros and cons of the surrounding area, and whether the area is trending up or down. Homes with blossoming downtown areas or new venues opening nearby are likely to rise in value, whereas homes within earshot of the freeway or passing trains are more likely to decline or stagnate. When looking at homes for sale, be sure to consider what will affect a home’s future price tag beyond its four walls.

6. When in Doubt, Ask

There’s a lot to keep in mind when buying a home, whether it’s your first time or tenth time. The key is to take your time and think through your decisions. That’s why having a trusted advisor is a huge advantage, whether it’s your real estate agent, a family member or a friend who has home buying experience. In addition to the missteps listed here, input from others can help you make sure you aren’t missing anything that could cost you down the line.

If you’re looking for any specific advice about buying your first home, we’re happy to help! Feel free to reach out to us anytime at 855-200-2085. We’re happy to help!

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    Marni Epstein-Mervis

    The Rocket Homes blog is here to bring you all you need to know about buying, selling and making the most of your home. Whether you’re thinking about becoming a homeowner, selling your current home or looking to keep your place in tip-top shape, our writers and freelancers bring their experience and expertise to meet you right where you are.