Whether you are new to housing or have already done it, you will find that it is a time consuming process. And in today’s housing market, it can be even more difficult than expected due to record-low inventory levels. But avoiding these missteps will make your search smoother, so avoid the following mistakes at all costs.
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1. Don’t set a budget first
There’s no point in spending time looking at houses that you can’t financially swing. However, if you don’t set a budget for buying a home, you might be wasting days or weeks looking for properties that you can’t afford. Instead of risking that, use a mortgage calculator to find a house price that you think is right for you. Remember, you shouldn’t be spending more than 30% of your net income on monthly housing costs. This includes your mortgage payment, property tax bill, and home insurance.
2. Only consider single-family homes
Perhaps you’ve put your heart on a detached house. But in today’s marketplace, inventory of starter homes is even more limited, so you may struggle to find a single family home that falls within your budget. On the flip side, when you’re ready to start looking at townhouses, you may find that you can buy an apartment without spending too much while still getting a decent amount of square feet. While townhouses have their downsides – they share at least one wall with another unit and have little to no outdoor space – they can be a great way to get your hands on a starter home. And remember, if the market opens up, you can still stock up in a couple of years.
3. Don’t work with a real estate agent
With almost everyone having internet access these days, nothing stands in the way of you surfing a real estate website and looking for homes near you. However, working with a real estate agent may help you conduct your search more efficiently. An agent may be able to schedule private screenings so that you are not limited to open houses when viewing apartments. And they could find out about homes before they officially go on sale, which gives you the opportunity to get a quote in front of the crowd. And remember, as a buyer, you don’t pay a commission to hire a real estate agent – you only pay if you are the seller.
4. Having too long a wish list
It goes without saying that your new home will tick all the correct boxes. But with inventory so limited today, it could mean that if you are picky you can’t buy any space at all. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make up a list of a few must-haves. But if your list has 17 different items that you won’t be moving about, you might end up spinning your wheels.
5. Limit yourself to a single neighborhood single
When looking for an apartment, you may have a specific neighborhood in mind – and there is nothing wrong with wanting to live in a specific area or aiming for a specific school district. But even here the inventory is very limited nowadays. So if you refuse to expand your search to within three miles, you may end up unsuccessful. Instead, take a look at nearby neighborhoods with comparable facilities and school districts – and at least see if that opens the door to more buying opportunities.
The last thing you want to do is get frustrated looking for a place to live and give up – or buy a home you can’t really afford if you can’t find one that suits you. Avoid these mistakes and you will save yourself a world of stress – and hopefully get closer to buying your own home.