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It’s an exciting time when you’re buying a house! You’re about to own something, to have a piece of the American dream. If you’ve been living in a rental for the past several years, you’ll finally be able to paint, and carpet, and redecorate to your heart’s content!

But as with all major purchases, there are some mistakes that you’re going to want to avoid. Here are five common mistakes I see when working with home buyers.

1) Looking at Homes Without Being Pre-Approved For A Mortgage

There are few things more frustrating than not finding the house that’s right for you because you’re looking in a price range far below what you can afford. Also, few things are as heartbreaking as when you find a home you love, but discover your financial picture means you can’t buy it. I’ve seen both scenarios and both waste time and cause emotional upheaval. Get a mortgage pre-approval from a local lender, preferably one your real estate agent recommends, and have that piece locked down before you even look at house one. This way you’ll know how much money you’ll be able to spend before you start looking at possible homes.

2) Working With The Wrong Real Estate Agent

Some agents do real estate on a part-time basis. They probably won’t be able to respond to you, or the agent on the other side of the transaction, or the lender, or the title and escrow officers in a timely fashion. You might lose the house you love because your part-time agent couldn’t get out of a 2:00 pm staff meeting.

Also, make sure your agent is comfortable communicating the way you like to communicate. I will never forget, about 12 years ago, I was at a Broker’s Open, and some agents were sitting around talking. One agent mentioned that a client had texted her and she had responded. Another agent asked incredulously, “You let your clients text you??” When the first agent nodded, the second agent said, “That’s just crazy! It’s, like, a dollar a text!”

This was when texting was far less ubiquitous and before most people bundled unlimited texting into their wireless data plans. My point is, find an agent who will reach you as you’d like, and with whom you’re comfortable and in whom you’re confident. Ask your friends for recommendations, or check out reviews online.

3) Taking Advice From People Who Won’t Be Paying For, Or Living In, The House

This is a big one, especially in our area, it seems. Buyers will go to work and tell their coworkers about the house they saw that they just love and want to purchase. That’s when the “advice” begins…

“Don’t ever buy the first house you look at…”

“You don’t need an inspection, I’ll come look at it this weekend for you…”

“You know, I just heard that house prices are dropping in some parts of the country, be sure to come in lower…”

All I can say is “no.” Listen to your agent. We do the job EVERY DAY. Your agent isn’t watching from the sidelines. They’re active in the profession and know the best advice to help you secure the house and safeguard your purchase with the proper contingencies.

4) Not Having An Inspection

Don’t do this. And unless you’re a licensed home inspector in your state, don’t do it yourself. Pay the $300-$500 to have a professional do it. What they uncover tends to fall into one of three categories:

  1. minor fixes you can do after move-in
  2. major hazards that anyone would expect the seller to repair before moving in, or
  3. enormous issues that cannot be rectified and will cause you to walk away from the sale.

When I am representing the seller and we receive the inspection response form, asking for repairs, etc., I always have my clients look at it from the standpoint of, “Are these requests reasonable? If we say no to any one of them, and the buyer walks as a result, will the next buyer likely ask for the same thing?” Most things in category two above fall in this area.

5) Falling In Love With a House You Don’t Yet Own

Wait until I hand you the keys to fall in love with the house. From the moment you first lay eyes on a house until the day you get to walk through the door as the owner, a lot of things can happen that would prevent you from getting the house. You might be outbid by another buyer; your inspection might uncover something major; you might get laid off from your job, etc. Any one of these would mean you need to pivot and go a different direction. So don’t mentally move yourself in until I say, “Here are the keys! Enjoy your new home!”

So there are five common mistakes I see when working with buyers — things I always try to advise them about when we begin working together. If you’re looking for an agent to help you find and buy the perfect home, call me anytime: (509) 430-5342.

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Cari McGee

Hi, I'm Cari McGee. 👋 I've lived in the Tri-Cities since 1994 and I've been a licensed Realtor® since 2004. That's a lot of local knowledge and real estate experience that I put into every article you read on my website! We've helped more than 560 families buy or sell property in the Tri-Cities. In 2023, our community voted us the bronze winner for Best Real Estate Team in the Tri-Cities Best voting. Learn more about me by clicking the link right above. And if you have any questions, get in touch anytime!

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