Category Archives: first time buyer lessons

10 (Preventable) Mistakes First Time Home Buyers Make


Photo of small chalk board with message about home sweet homeBuying a home is a BIG deal—and an overwhelming process if you’re a first time home buyer.  We’ve helped many, many “rookie” buyers purchase their first home, and we’ve seen some very common mistakes that a lot from first time buyers that could’ve been easily avoided.

Not knowing your budget.

No online calculator is 100% accurate, so don’t ‘bank’ buying your home on an inaccurate budget number.  Consult a lender early in the process to find out if you are approved to buy a house, and what amount you are approved to borrow.  Once approved, ask your lender how long your approval is good for; after a certain amount of time, your approval becomes invalid.

Not understanding the numbers.

Buying your first home involves more than touring and making an offer on the property you love.  Before you start hunting for homes, learn all the mortgage numbers and deadlines you need to get approved for a mortgage.  Once you know how to get approved, make sure you know all the numbers that come with each property, such as property taxes, home owner association fees, and other home ownership costs.  Find a real estate agent that can give you information about all the numbers throughout the process.

Being unrealistic about what you can afford, or can offer.

Don’t expect the moon for nothing. Do your research, and ask your realtor to show you what your money can get in your local real estate market. Don’t assume you need to set your budget at the maximum amount that a lender will borrow you, and don’t assume that you will get everything just because want in a home. Prioritize your list of ‘must haves’ and decide what features you want most in your new home.

Not having a solid list of ‘must haves’ to work off.

If you don’t know what you’re looking for in your new home, how are you going to find it? Make a list of ‘must haves,’ and ‘must nots’ for your new home. Expect your list to change as you search for homes. It’s normal to tweak your list as you see features during your home tours that you want in your new home—or don’t want.  For more help, hire an experienced real estate agent that can help you determine what you need and want in your first home.

Getting stuck on parts of a home you can change.

Paint color, flooring, trees, plants, decking…even cabinet color can be changed to fit your tastes.  Unfortunately, too many first time home buyers get stuck on the small, inexpensive details of a home.  Instead, try to look at the ‘bones’ of a home: layout, yard size, mechanicals (electrical, plumbing, etc.), structure.

Taking on too much of a project.

Even the most experienced home buyer can get in over his or her head, leading to disappointments and unexpected costs that sour the home ownership process. Keeping a level head during the buying process is the key, and knowing what you can and can’t handle. Be realistic.  If you haven’t picked up a hammer recently—or ever—perhaps that fixer upper is not the property for you. Know your limitations and take on a property that fits your experience. If you don’t have a lot of experience with a screw gun, but still want to put your personal touch on a home, look for a property that has small projects you can manage.

Trusting your MAJOR purchase to a friend of a friend.

Buying a home is one of the most expensive purchases you’re going to likely make in your life.  As much as you love your friend, don’t just trust anyone to guide you through your home sale—especially when you’re a first time home buyer.  Use these tips to make sure you get an experienced realtor with the knowledge and home sales under their belt that can help guide you through the process, even if you have problems with home inspection and lender issues.

Foregoing the home inspection.

This is a mistake that can cost you thousands of dollars after you buy your first home. A home inspector can tell you if work done by the previous owner was done correctly, or can recommend professionals that can inspect the foundation for cracks and leaks. If you do find issues, you have time to renegotiate the price with the owners. If your offer is contingent on the home inspection, you can also back out of the sale. Home inspectors can not only give you insight into the quality of past repairs, but can also give you a list of repairs that need to be made in the future and a timeline. If the house needs a new roof, for example, he can give you his opinion on when it needs to be replaced.

Jumping at the first property you see.

Although it feels like love at first sight, make sure you know your options and compare them to that property.  You may end up coming back—and buying—that property, but at least you know that you’ve explored all your options so you end up with a major case of buyer’s remorse.

Waiting too long

It’s easy to over analyze the process, and to let it delay your signature at the closing table.  If interest rates increase, waiting a few months (or even a few weeks) can cost you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.  Know when the time is right to buy your first property, and act.  Start by contacting a real estate agent and lender to get the process started, and get in your first home.