On the list of major life decisions and stressors, buying a home is right up there alongside of choosing a college major, getting married or deciding to have children. If you make a poor decision, you can reverse it—but it’s expensive, time-consuming and more than a little stressful. The good news is that many buyer blunders are easily avoidable with a little research on the front end of the process.
Here are some of the biggest mistakes I see buyers make.
The Consumer Reports video embedded above offers more mistakes for buyers to avoid.
Don’t pick a house that’s just “good enough.” Keep looking. Many times, buyers are driven by the discomfort of their current living arrangements. Maybe it’s you, your spouse, two kids and four dogs in a two-bedroom apartment; maybe you’ve moved back home and are living in your mom’s basement—but don’t let your eagerness to leave one unpleasant situation land you in another one.At some point, your home will hit the market. The homebuying process requires patience, and looking is the cheapest part of the process. It literally doesn’t cost you a dime to look at everything on the market, and a seasoned and wise real estate agent will encourage you to do so and skillfully guide you through the process. (If the agent doesn’t, replace them with a better one.)
Going it alone
Smart people hire smart people. Don’t go at it alone. It will not cost a buyer to engage and hire a Realtor to work on their behalf. Yes, HGTV makes everyone an “expert” … but seriously, hire someone who is in the trenches every day, and let them do what they are good at. The right Realtor can save you a tremendous amount of time, money and frustration with their knowledge of the local market, price points, trends and conditions or circumstances around the various properties that are available in the inventory.
Relying on family and friends
Your uncle Joe may have been a contractor in the late ’80s, your dad may have built the deck on your family home, your best friend’s fiancé may work at TVA … but those facts do not a home inspector make. You need to hire a professional home inspector who is seasoned, knowledgeable and has a comprehensive approach to the inspection processes. Find the best available inspector(s) through your real estate agent, not through the yellow pages or a random internet search. Remember that the best agents will know multiple home inspectors with solid reputations to help you make sure your future home is in good condition before you move your family and your prized possessions into it.
Overusing social media, technology
Don’t overshare. Make no mistake: Sellers are investigating every buyer who makes an offer on their property. The more you or your family posts online, the more negotiating power and leverage your Realtor loses. “Pipe down, Turbo”; this is the time to be thoughtful and strategic. You can share later. Another mistake buyers make is contacting the seller via social media. This is a bad move that compromises your Realtor’s ability to navigate you toward the best deal. It can be critical to your transaction—legally and financially—to let a professional Realtor serve as intermediary between you and the seller. Don’t try to talk to the seller without a buffer. Sadly, I’ve seen this complicate and kill otherwise-good deals. An additional technology-related item to now be aware of is that the sellers, and many times do, watch or listen to you via camera as you tour their home. Be careful with your comments, both positive and negative. The last thing a buyer wants a seller to know is that they “love this home.”
Buying a home is one of the most exciting times of a person’s life, but it can also be overwhelming and frustrating. Don’t let this intersection of positive and negative emotions lure you into making a bad, expensive, impulsive decision. The right home for your budget and needs is out there, just waiting for you to make memories in it.
Todd Henon Properties is a top Chattanooga-based real estate team serving Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama since 2000. Specializing in homes, land, farms and estates, Todd’s seasoned neighborhood and acreage specialists are known for their expertise in the sale and purchase of traditional and unique properties. Todd’s credentials as a general contractor and visionary land consultant give his clients a daily edge. A lifelong Chattanoogan and avid outdoorsman, no one knows the market better or loves the region more than Todd and his innovative team of respected agents. Headquartered at Keller Williams Realty–Greater Downtown Chattanooga (each office is independently owned and operated), the Todd Henon Properties’ team invites you to search for your next home or investment move at ToddHenon.com.