Back
Avoid these pitfalls before you start house hunting
Apr 20, 2018

You’ve turned it over and over in your head. You’ve discussed it with friends, colleagues and family. You’re ready to make one of the biggest decisions of your life: you’re going to be a home owner.

But even before you’re making decisions about number of bedrooms, bathrooms and neighbourhood; there are common pitfalls that occur before the house hunt even begins.

Not finding a good Realtor

Finding and using a good Realtor  who will help you mitigate these pitfalls and your dream of finding your first dream home will materialize. A Realtor will be there for saving you from mistakes you should never make.

Find a Realtor who can provide advice about how to avoid these pitfalls and make your life easier and save yourself some headaches.

Not finding out your credit score

The best house-hunting intentions will all come to a halt if first-time buyers do not have a credit score sufficient enough to obtain a mortgage. Most lenders will not approve a mortgage if an applicant has a credit score below the good to excellent range.

It’s a good idea for would-be buyers to get their credit reports about a year in advance of house hunting. Credit reports can be wrong, depending on the source the buyers choose, and it might take time for them to correct their scores.

Not getting pre-approved for a mortgage

Prospective homebuyers should get pre-approved for a mortgage before they start to look, for two reasons.

First, it avoids heartache if they aren’t ultimately approved for a mortgage once they’ve found the house of their dreams. It lets them know of any issues in approval upfront, so they can rectify them.

Second, if you’re in a hot real estate market, the first person to make a bid may have an advantage. Pre-approval lets first-time buyers have a chance at making the first bid.

Not having a viable budget

Most homebuyers are savvy enough to budget for their mortgage costs. But they may be ignoring the other costs of homeownership — property taxes, provincial and local taxes, utilities, upkeep and private mortgage insurance (PMI). And that’s just for after the purchase.

Homeowners need to budget for all homeownership costs and have money saved up for repairs. They also, frankly, should have a cash cushion of at least three months’ income in case of unexpected costs early in their homeownership.

Not getting a sense of the neighbourhood

Neighbourhoods matter. Homebuyers need basic information about the neighbourhood. Each neighbourhood has its own mini culture. Will they feel at home among their neighbours?

They can walk around on the weekend to get a sense of it. A couple of things buyers should ask are:

Does it have open green space, parks and hiking trails, (if that’s important to them)?

Will they be close to major highways and public transportation?

Is the neighbourhood safe, or does it have crime issues?

Are the school districts good?

How is shopping?

The answers to these questions will help them decide if the neighbourhood is the right fit. This is especially important for buyers who are relocating to a new area.

Not knowing what their land is zoned for

If homebuyers purchase land, it’s essential they know how it is zoned. Zoning regulations change frequently, so they need to know of any recent changes, and they shouldn’t rely on older paperwork.

Zoning can be a real issue if they want certain additions to the property later. It can also be an issue if they have a home-based business or want to start one at some future point.

Don’t fall into the trap of buying a property with zoning that will not accommodate future dreams.

Not deciding on the kind of home you want

Home hunters should make a list of the type of home and property they want, suitable for their budget of course.

Otherwise, they can spend unnecessary time and effort looking at homes or properties unadaptable to their budget. Fixer-uppers may be a good starting point due to a limited budget, but the daunting aspect might quickly wear on them.

It also helps to create a list of must-have and negotiable home qualities. This will eliminate future financial strain as their budget will need to adapt to their growing wants and needs.

Not getting the inspection results before they fall in love

It’s not uncommon for homebuyers to see a house, fall in love with it, and essentially, make the decision before they really know the property’s true condition.

A house and grounds can look fine with no visible problems, but have issues an inspection will surface. These issues can include costly structural concerns and health concerns that may make the house uninhabitable.

No homebuyer should make a final decision until the inspector has ruled.

Homebuyers often make mistakes if they’re not adequately guided. Choosing a home is a major life decision. It’s easy to overlook essential steps, especially if they are first-time homebuyers.

— Inman News