Shopping for a home can be an exhilarating experience. You get to explore new parts of town, visit new homes, see various styles of living, perhaps even mapping out new routes for how you’ll get to and from work.
The possibilities are endless.
But without proper preparation, that American dream can have a much different outcome than what you had envisioned.
Many home buyers make mistakes that can slow down the home buying process, or potentially put them in the wrong house.
If you’re a current home buyer, there are easy ways to avoid these mistakes.
Mistakes to Avoid When House Hunting
For first time home buyers, it’s easy to get swept up in the notion of that cute first home with the white picket fence. Or, for some, perhaps it’s the mini-mansion with the gorgeous swimming pool in the back yard.
Starting out with the proper perspective can help you avoid a roller coaster ride with all the wrong thrills.
Don’t Let Your Emotions Control Your Decisions
When you let your emotions take over, you often make choices that would normally be for short-term decision-making. Since home buying typically falls into the long-term category, it’s best to keep your emotions in check.
Of course, this is easier said than done.
Ideally, when it comes to needs vs wants, needs should win. Having a needs list can help you stay the course and avoid making a purchase that you’ll later regret.
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Forgetting That Buying a Home is an Investment
For most Americans, you’ll never have a bigger investment than your home. Like many investments, you may not get an immediate return.
A lot of people don’t consider homeownership when they think of investing. It doesn’t help that most Americans don’t get excited about the concept of building their retirement plan.
Buying a home is a whole different animal, though. It’s an investment filled with plenty of excitement.
Unless your plan is to never sell or refinance, when you buy a home, you should always think about it from an investment standpoint.
Owning a home means you’ll have to make a sizeable payment every month.
At least initially, most of that monthly payment will be going towards interest, not principle. That means even after you’ve made payments for a year or two, it’s possible to still owe almost as much as you originally borrowed.
As such, like many investments, you should be thinking of your home as more of a long-term investment.
Location, Location, Location
You’ve most likely heard the phrase before, especially from real estate professionals. Location, location, location is perhaps the most well-known real estate mantras out there.
To this day, this age-old adage still holds plenty of merits. Why? Because, as a good agent will tell you, identical homes can increase or decrease in value solely based on location.
It isn’t unusual for emotional home buyers to purchase the right home in the wrong location.
But what makes a location right or wrong? That’s where that needs list can be beneficial.
If children are in your future, their education could play an important role in your home buying decision. Top-rated school districts not only affect location, but they can affect your price point.
Alternatively, a bad location might be an area with high crime. People want to feel safe, and they’re willing to pay for it.
The economic stability of your neighborhood, the views, the proximity to entertainment and shopping are additional factors that may impact the importance of your home’s location.
Things You Should Do When House Hunting
Real estate professionals often notice that it’s not unusual for home buyers to buy the first home they look at.
While this isn’t always a bad thing, it’s not always the best idea either.
If you only see one home and have no other frame of reference, you may miss out on qualities other homes have to offer.
At a minimum, try to see at least two to three homes. If you’re still in love with that first home, you can feel even better about making a good decision as you go back to write an offer.
It’s important to note, however, that homes don’t stay available for long in the current housing market. If you see your dream home, be careful not to wait too long as you could lose the home to another buyer
Prepare a Wants and Needs List – Then Stick to It
While the average U.S. homeowner isn’t moving as often as they once did, they’re still not “being carried out of this home in a box”, as they say.
On average, Americans are buying a new home every nine years. This is significant because the things that are important to you will likely change over the years.
Your wants and needs list can be a great tool in this regard, as is it helps keep you from straying outside of your budget.
Buying a Home is a Journey, Stay the Course
Buying a home can be a lengthy process, especially in a hot real estate market. But it’s a life experience that can be one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do.
Don’t give up if you don’t find your dream home immediately.
The good news about a hot real estate market is that new homes are constantly popping up. Hang in there. Your dream home may be just around the corner.