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Avoid These Mistakes When Buying a Home

By Lee Cameron Published 07/19/2011 | Real Estate

Buying a home is a complicated and very expensive endeavor. Unfortunately, there are a lot of pitfalls for buyers who come into the process unprepared. Some buyers even start making mistakes before they even begin looking for a home. Here are some typical mistakes to try to avoid.

Mistake #1 - Not Knowing What You Want

It's fun to drive through neighborhoods and hunt for houses but if you start looking for homes to buy without knowing what kind of house you really want and need, you could get in trouble. Before you even start looking at homes, whether in your car or online, sit down and make a list of the features that you will need. How may bedrooms? Do you need a two car garage? What schools do you want your kids to go to? Would you prefer a house, a condo or a townhome? Once you've determined these factors, then decide what you WANT. A pool? Two stories? A big backyard? Once you know what you're looking for, your search for a new home will go much easier.

Mistake #2 - Not Talking to a Lender

Now comes the hard part. Once you've determined what kind of house you need and what kind of house you'd like, it's time to find out what kind of house you can afford. Talking to a lender before you go house hunting can save yourself a lot of hassle and grief in the long run. Once you've determined a price-range that you can afford, only look at homes that fall within that range. Seeing a big, beautiful house that you can't afford will only make it harder to fall in love with the more modest one that you can afford.

Mistake #3 - Relying Too Much on the Internet

Statistics say that 9 out of 10 buyers now start their search for a new home on the internet. Unfortunately, many buyers rely entirely on information they find online to make a purchase. The internet is a great tool but photos, virtual tours and Google maps won't tell you everything you need to know about a property. If you find one that you like, go and check it out personally. It's important to see not only the house, but also the community around it. Get a feel for the roads, the neighborhood, the local dining and shopping options. All of these will be important factors when you decide whether or not to buy the home.

Mistake #4 - Not Having the Right Help

Many people these days are choosing not to use a buyer's agent when purchasing a home. Of course, if you're very experienced in property transactions, this can be fine. However, if you don't have much experience - and especially if this is your first home - you should seriously consider getting an agent to work on your behalf. A good buyer's agent can help you navigate the negotiating and the paperwork, as well as recommending home inspectors (more on that in a minute), lenders and repairman if needed. 

Mistake #5 - Not Getting the Home Inspected

This is a big one. Many home buyers think they can save some money by skipping the home inspection. This is a bad idea. Yes, it is entirely possible that the inspector will find absolutely nothing wrong with the home, but if there IS something you absolutely want to know about it before the closing. In many cases, repairs can be taken care of in the contract and the seller will get it done for you. And at the very least, you know exactly what you're buying. Don't skimp on the home inspection - you may end up regretting it.

There are plenty of issues that can pop up when buying a home, but if you're calm and careful (and if you have some help) you can manage to avoid them without too much trouble. Just remember, this is one of the biggest financial decisions of your life. It's worth being cautious.