First-Time Home Buyer Mistakes to Avoid

Kyle Hiscock

Kyle Hiscock | Greater Rochester NY Real Estate | Pittsford NY Realtor at RE/MAX Realty Group

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Mistakes of First Time Buyers
Mistakes of First Time Buyers

Don’t Make One of These First-Time Home Buyer Mistakes

Buying a home for the first-time can be an exciting and daunting experience. There is a lot to consider and there are many mistakes which could result in greater expenses down the road. Since you haven’t been through the process before, there are many things which could surprise you and cost more than you had anticipated. We take a look at some of the common issues and how to avoid these first-time buyer mistakes. Maximum Real Estate Exposure has an excellent resource that discusses these problems to avoid in-depth. We’ll take a look at some of them here as well.

How Much Can You Afford to Spend?

It can be great fun to imagine yourself living in your dream home, but if you can’t afford the monthly payments, you will need to set your sights more realistically. As a first-time buyer, you don’t want to fall into the trap of overextending your finances. One of the common mistakes of first-time buyers is to not fully understand what they can afford before going house hunting. You will be in for a lot of sleepless nights, worrying about how you can keep up with your mortgage payments if you get this wrong. The solution is to use an online mortgage calculator to make sure you are setting your sights realistically. Visit a mortgage professional to find out how much money could be available to you and see if you can get preapproved for a loan. This way, you won’t waste time looking at houses you really can’t afford. If your budget only allows to look at properties that need work like fixer-uppers, it is vital that you don’t get in over your head. Make sure you can make any necessary repairs that won’t kill your overall budget.

Mortgage Quotes

Not all mortgage loans are the same, and if you don’t get multiple quotes you could find yourself paying more than you need to. Lenders offer different interest rates and have varying fees for their services. A slight difference in interest rates is going to add up significantly over the mortgage loan period.

While multiple applications for credit can count against you, applying for mortgages only counts as a single credit inquiry as long as it is within a 45-day period. So use this to your advantage and get the best mortgage deal you can. Make sure you ask the lender you’re considering lots of questions. It is vital to have a strong understanding of exactly what you are agreeing to.

Credit Reports

Lenders will take a good look at your credit report when you apply for a mortgage. If there are any errors in your credit report this could have a negative effect on the interest rate you are given.

You can get a free credit report, to make sure everything is right, from the top three credit score companies. If you find a problem you can get it corrected. When buying a house your credit score will be one of the most significant pieces of information a lender will use to judge your financial viability.

While it is possible to get a loan with bad credit, you should be striving to get your scores up as high as possible before committing to a home purchase.

Is Your Down Payment Big Enough?

If you are able to pay a larger down payment for the property, your loan will be smaller. This means lower monthly payments and less interest to pay.

The problem is that it will take longer for you to buy your first house when you are trying to save for a larger down payment. Home prices are generally on the rise, with occasional corrections, so waiting means that it will gradually become more difficult to afford to buy.

The trick is to ensure that your down payment allows you to get affordable monthly mortgage payments.

First-time Buyer Mortgage Programs

First-Time Buyer Financing Programs
First-Time Buyer Financing Programs

There could be some first-time buyer financing programs available to help you get on the property ladder. Often it depends on the state you live in and the programs they have for first-time buyers. But there are also programs run by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Agriculture which allow you to purchase without a down payment. The Federal Housing Administration offers loans with a minimum down payment requirement of just 3.5 percent.

Do some research to find out if these programs are open to you and what is available in your state. If you are a veteran or are currently serving in the military, a VA loan is an excellent option that allows for no down payment.

Paying Discount Points

Discount points offered by mortgage lenders allow you to pay fees upfront to reduce your monthly interest rate. This will start to pay off more, the longer you hold the mortgage. The reason for this is a lower interest rate. By paying points up front the lender will lower your monthly interest rate.

If you expect to stay in the home for longer than the break-even point, and you have the money, it is worth doing. However, when you are struggling to get the money together for the down payment, this extra expense isn’t worth worrying about.

Spending All Your Savings

Another significant first-time buyer mistake is not having enough funds in reserve. With any home purchase, there is always the risk of repairs soon becoming required. This is more of an issue the older the house is, but if you have exhausted all your savings, you could be in some real trouble when facing a large bill.

To avoid this mistake you should make sure you have saved enough, not only for the down payment but also the moving costs and closing fees. This should ensure that there will be more in the pot should an emergency repair be needed.

Credit Applications Before Closing the Sale

One of the first-time buyer mistakes you may not have considered is the problem of changing your credit rating before the purchase of the house has concluded. The lender will check your credit when you apply for a mortgage and give you a quote based on that. They will then go back and check your credit rating again when the sale is closing. If your rating has changed you could be denied a mortgage or have to pay a higher interest rate.

Make sure not to apply for credit or buy large items on credit prior to your purchase closing. Believe it or not numerous buyers have lost their dream home due to making silly financial mistakes right before a closing.

Repair Costs

If you are buying a house which needs a few things doing to it, it can be easy to think the costs of repair will be lower than they turn out to be. You don’t want to be surprised by a repair bill which you don’t have the money to pay.

When you are looking to get a quote for repairs, don’t just get one. More quotes will give you a more realistic view of the costs involved. Real Estate agents are often preaching about the necessity of a professional home inspection. It’s vital to have a strong understanding of the condition of the property you are buying.

By having a home inspection you will not only learn about all the major systems but discover any issues that should be budgeted for down the road.

Underestimating Ongoing Costs

It is all too easy to fall into the trap of underestimating how much owning your own home will cost you. It isn’t just the monthly mortgage bill that you will need to cover. Electricity, cable and other household costs need to be factored into your calculations. These are, of course, on top of other costs like car repayments and gas, that could amount to more outgoings than you had been expecting.

Ask the real estate agent about local taxes and, if possible, ask the seller about their utility costs. Check your bank statements and make sure you aren’t leaving things out when adding everything up.

Final Thoughts

Buying a home for the first time gives you a real sense of independence. It’s critical, however, not to make the kind of blunders that will put you in a hole for years to come. Hopefully, you can avoid some of the first-time home buyer mistakes mentioned above and have an excellent buying experience.

Make sure you find an excellent buyer’s agent to work with and lean on their experience. Lots of buyers pick an agent at random which can lead to a very miserable experience.

Other Helpful Resources For Home Buyers

About The Author: The above article, “First-Time Home Buyer Mistakes to Avoid” was written by Bill Gassett. Bill is a nationally recognized real estate leader who has been helping people buy and sell Metrowest Massachusetts real estate for the past 32-plus years. He has been one of the top RE/MAX REALTORS® in New England for the past decade. In 2018, he was the No. 1 RE/MAX real estate agent in Massachusetts.

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About Rochester’s Real Estate Blog: Rochester’s Real Estate Blog is owned and operated by Kyle Hiscock of the Hiscock Sold Team at RE/MAX Realty Group.

With over 35 years of combined experience, if you’re thinking of selling or buying, we’d love to share our knowledge and expertise.

We service the following Greater Rochester NY areas: Irondequoit, Webster, Penfield, Pittsford, Fairport, Brighton, Greece, Gates, Hilton, Brockport, Mendon, Henrietta, Perinton, Churchville, Scottsville, East Rochester, Rush, Honeoye Falls, Chili, and Victor NY.

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