Buying a home is part of the American dream – and for millions of Americans, that dream becomes a reality every year. Unfortunately, for every dream that comes true there are those that silently fade out. Home buyers, especially those buying their first house, can make a lot of mistakes in the process if they aren’t careful or don’t have a good resource (such as a knowledgeable friend) to go to for advice.
We all would like to think the realtor is going to steer us straight, or that our mortgage company would warn us if something doesn’t seems right – but the fact of the matter is they are both there to make money off you and so they usually don’t have a vested interest in steering you clear of anything. With that said, let’s take a look at four of the most common mistakes home buyers make.
First, they buy a home they simply cannot afford or do not need. Have you heard the term McMansions being used? It refers to all the huge houses that seem to pop up everywhere nowadays. Just how many square feet does a family need? All too often new homeowners, and even seasoned veterans, can fall into the trap of buying way more house than they will ever need. Most real estate agents want to push the most expensive property they can on you because, guess what, they earn a commission based on how much you spend! Our advice? Go home shopping with some of the smartest people out there – your parents! They have been through this before and can be a great source of information that is coming from a (hopefully) unbiased source.
Second, home buyers fail to lock in their interest rates when buying a home. Interest rates change on an almost daily basis it seems. Some home buyers like to “test the waters” and see how long they can go before locking in a rate – it works sometimes, but it can bite you if the interest rates suddenly jump. Shop around for the best deal on a mortgage, and when you find one you want ask them to pre-lock the interest rate in. They can usually do this for a period of 15-30 days – which doesn’t give you much time, but hopefully you will already know which house you want to pursue and can start the paperwork soon afterwards.
Third, a lot of new home buyers don’t understand the complicated mortgage process and all the terms and rules of the loan. You are getting ready to sign off on one the biggest purchases you will probably ever make – do you realize what you are signing? Have an attorney, or family friend who is into real estate, go over the mortgage paperwork with you. Ask lots of questions of your mortgage lender about the loan. Don’t be afraid to shop around and check different lenders out to see who can give you the best deal.
Most importantly, realize that you are signing a long-term commitment with serious financial complications if you don’t hold up your end of the bargain!
Finally, many homeowners both old and new don’t truly understand all the insurance options available to them.
How many of you reading this believe that your house is covered if a torrential rainfall hits and you get flooded? Unless you’ve purchased Federal flood insurance then you are out of luck – our homeowners insurance doesn’t cover floods! You shopped around for a mortgage, but did you shop around for homeowners insurance?
Do you understand your policy limits and deductible? Are you covered for a place to stay if a fire strikes your house? All these questions should be asked of your insurance agent before you buy a house. Make sure that you are covered for the unknown before you set foot in your new house.
Buying a new home can be a fun, exhilarating process. Nothing in the world can quite beat the feeling of owning your own home. Take a few minutes to understand the responsibilities of owning a home and you will be better prepared to have your own piece of the American dream.