Buying a home can be complicated, and this is especially true for first-time buyers. After renting a home for years (or living with mum and dad), making that first step on the property ladder is a daunting prospect. The path to finding the perfect home is long and hard, and the pitfalls along the way are many. But hey, that is where we come in. By giving you a few pointers to help you avoid said pitfalls, the home-buying process may be easier for you, if and when you decide to take the plunge into the housing market.
The following are the pitfalls you need to avoid:
Buying a home on a whim
So you’ve decided buy your first house. Exciting isn’t it! But reign yourself in and curb the temptation to buy the first property you think you can reasonably afford. This is the first pitfall a first-time buyer will make, but it’s one that can cause further trouble down the line. You could buy a potential money pit for starters – the price was probably low for a good reason – and there are a lot of other things to take into account before signing on any dotted line. This includes researching the neighbourhood – making sure it has all the amenities your family needs – and checking for better properties (with better value) that may be welcoming home buyers in just a few blocks away.
Waiting too long to buy
After buying a home on a whim, the opposite is also common. It’s understandable to be a little cautious, but if you dither for too long on a particular property, or are unduly worried about the rise and fall of the housing market, you will still be stuck in your rented flat for years to come. Yes, the estate agent will tell you the right time to buy, and yes, you don’t want to throw away your money on something unsuitable, but after spending time doing some research, take an educated risk and buy something. Oh, and don’t wait for a dream house either. Every property will have its imperfections, but it’s what you do with it after the purchase that makes it a home ideal for you.
Not shopping around for a mortgage
Before you even go house hunting, it’s worth getting a loan pre-approved. After all, it would be terrible to find a house and get turned down by every bank on your high street when you go and ask for a mortgage. If you’re unsure you will qualify for a mortgage, use a mortgage calculator to help you work out the deposit and repayments you will be expected to make. When your finances are in order, it’s still worth shopping around. Interest rates fluctuate, and you may be able to get a better deal than the first offer a bank gives you. It’s a good idea to speak to an independent finance broker who will have knowledge of the best deals, or you could also use an online comparison service to cut out the middleman.
Forgetting extra expenses
So you have the money to pay back the mortgage. Great! However, there is a lot more you need to budget for. When looking for a home in your ‘price range,’ this has to include solicitor fees, taxes, surveyor costs, and more. Then there are the hidden costs, which include maintenance issues at the property you are buying. Therefore, don’t spend more than you can afford on a property until you have added up all the extra costs that go alongside it. You will feel the pinch if you end up over budget and you will have difficulty with the mortgage payments.
Trusting the wrong people
There are people you can trust in the process, and people you can’t. So who can you trust? Well, your solicitor should give you unbiased advice for starters, and you may have friends and family who can recommend other trusted companies, such as building surveyors and removal services. Who can’t you trust? The seller’s agent for one, as they are working for the sellers best interest and they will try and get every last bit of loose change you have in your pocket. Don’t trust the seller’s word on the property either.
They may tell you there’s nothing wrong with the house, but without a proper inspection, you may discover flaws and damages that you weren’t originally made aware of. So, our advice is this. When looking at a potential home, take somebody with you, especially someone who knows how to ask the right questions. If you are in any way unsure, walk away, as you don’t want to waste your money (or spend too much money) on something that isn’t worth it.
Going for the asking price
Linked to the above. The seller will put up an asking price, but there is always wriggle room to consider. Compare similar properties to see how much other sellers are asking for, and haggle with the seller or agent to get to a price you are happy to pay. The house may be perfectly priced for its quality and location, but it is still worth going lower if you can. The seller will expect this, as quite often, agents overprice the property to begin with, as this gives the impression they are being generous when the costs are lowered after a bit of bartering.
Signing documents before reading the small print
Do not sign anything before you are entirely sure you are doing the right thing. From the loan agreement to the sales and purchase agreement, make sure you read the contracts in full. This includes the small print, as despite your certainty in buying a home, there may still be hidden clauses that are not in your best interest. When the contract is signed, you are not necessarily too late to back down, but it will be much harder for you if the seller isn’t compliant. You can negotiate a new contract, but it’s sensible to get your solicitor to read through the paperwork with you before you make a potentially costly mistake.
Foregoing a building inspection
As mentioned, another pair of eyes is always useful when looking around a property. A building inspector knows what to look out for, as your untrained eyes may not see every fault inherent in a property. So, even if your best mate’s dad has experience in buying a home, still seek the help of a professional, despite the expense. Some faults are repairable, and it may not cost you much in maintenance costs, while others could seriously cost you financially (and personally) down the line. Cracks in walls, odd smells, cold drafts… if anything concerns you, get it checked out. Even if the home you are buying is a fixer-upper, you don’t want the walls falling down around you on the day you move in!
Going it alone
Finally, don’t go through the process alone. We have already told you the benefits of having people on your side when buying a house, and they will add to your peace of mind. Most importantly, you should hire a buyer’s agent to be on your side. The seller has one, so why shouldn’t you. They will offer you expert and impartial advice that will make house hunting a whole lot simpler for you. Buying a house is stressful, but with the right people, a lot of the pitfalls mentioned above can be overcome. Hopefully, you will find a wonderful place to live and have many happy years ahead of you. Of course, one day you may think about selling up, but that’s a tale for another day.