The Top Eight House Hunting Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

family-home-475879_1280-PDThe prospect of house hunting can be daunting to say the least. This is especially true for first-time homebuyers or those who are on a tight deadline to move, as the temptation to settle for less than what they want could be overwhelming. Since your home is the largest purchase you’ll likely ever make, it only makes good sense to choose wisely. Here are the eight most common house hunting mistakes people make, along with tips on how you can avoid these catastrophes yourself.

  1. Choosing the wrong neighborhood

Even if you find the home of your dreams, you’re not likely to enjoy it much if you are unhappy with your neighborhood. MSN Real Estate recommends choosing the neighborhood before you decide on a home. You’ll be able to narrow down your search more, and will also be less likely to regret your location later.

  1. Not having a clear picture of what they want

Many buyers waste an unnecessary amount of time looking at homes, simply because they don’t have a clear picture of what they really want. To avoid this merry-go-round, make a list of things your new home must have, features that would be “nice to have” and others you definitely do not want. That way, your Realtor® can eliminate homes that do not fit this criteria, and you’ll be in a better position to choose those that suit you.

  1. Not knowing what they can afford

This goes hand in hand with deciding what features you would like your home to have. If you don’t know what you can afford, you could be wasting a great deal of time looking at properties you couldn’t qualify for a mortgage on anyway. Take the time to get pre-approved, and you will save yourself and your real estate agent a great deal of hassle.

  1. Not signing up for notifications whenever new properties become available.

New homes go on the market every day, so if you’re not careful, someone else may beat you to the punch. To ensure you are aware of homes that meet your criteria right away, sign up for alerts so you can stay on top of the latest listings.

  1. Failing to plan properly for a showing

Don’t schedule too many showings close together, as this could cause you to rush through one in order to get to the next. You’ll need to allot yourself plenty of time in the event you do find something you’re interested in and want to give it a thorough look over. You should also make sure to eat before you go, as you’ll find it hard to concentrate on looking at a home if you’re hungry. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes that you can slip on and off easily so you’ll be comfortable walking around. Bring a light rain jacket if there’s even a hint of precipitation so you can still look around the yard with ease, despite the rain.

  1. Foregoing an inspection

Whether it’s pride in thinking they can spot structural defects or the unwillingness to part with the extra cash, a good percentage of people never consider having a formal home inspection. This can be a costly mistake, as some problems may not be apparent on the surface, and might manifest themselves weeks or months down the road. By having an inspection performed, you’ll know up front what you’re getting, and can even have some negotiating power if you find major defects.

  1. Failing to look in every nook and cranny

Believe it or not, some people walk through a house and never open a cabinet or closet door to look behind them. If you are truly interested in a house, make sure you look in every nook and cranny, to include opening drawers, closet doors and cupboards. Don’t just assume there is adequate storage space, or that what’s behind closed doors is in good condition; otherwise, you might be in for an unpleasant surprise on move-in day.

  1. Rushing to make a purchase

This is another reason why buyers sometimes skip inspections-because they are in a hurry to make a purchase. Just because you’ve been given a move-out date doesn’t mean you should rush to purchase a home that you intend to live in for several years. You’d be better off moving to an extended stay hotel or moving in with family members in order to wait for the right home to come along.

These simple mistakes cause home buyers a great deal of remorse, but can easily be avoided with the right planning. By keeping these things in mind, you’ll be much better prepared when looking for houses, and are therefore less likely to make a home purchase you’ll regret.

What did you look for in your past house hunting experiences?

This post courtesy of Chad Dannecker

Chad Dannecker is team leader of Dannecker & Associates. With more than 40 years of local real estate experience, Dannecker & Associates has established themselves as the leading source of real estate services in San Diego.

8 Replies to “The Top Eight House Hunting Mistakes and How to Avoid Them”

    1. Thank you for the comment!

      I have actually bought a few buildings without an inspection… I did that to purchase a few foreclosures, that I knew had many issues. It makes the offer just a bit sweeter for the bank.

      But as a residential buyer, I would always get one.

  1. The best thing people can do when house hunting is to check your emotions at the door. Unfortunately not everyone has this ability. But people fall in love and their must-have list and their budget flies out the window. And the realtors are only too happy to leverage that emotion to close the deal.

    1. Thank you for the comment!

      You are absolutely correct, especially when it comes to an investment property. And you can never trust a Realtor, or anyone, who has a financial interest in what you are buying.

  2. I’m surprised I didn’t make more mistakes! I was able to avoid most on this list when we bought our first home. I think knowing what area we were looking for really helped us. Once we got a feel for what our money would get us in the neighborhood(s) we were looking at, it became easy to choose a home.

  3. If you use an agent, then having the wrong agent can be a huge problem. Your agent needs to be your eyes and ears, and if he/she is not looking for you and everything you want, then your search can go south quickly. While our agent didn’t hit a home run on every house he found for us, he understood the criteria and also learned from the reasons we didn’t like something so that in the end he led us to exactly what we were looking for.

    1. Thank you for the comment!

      The agent definitely needs to help and work in your interest. And they need to be able to advise you on what you need to do to protect yourself in any purchase. inspections, legal paperwork, etc.

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