Everyone has bought something they have ultimately regretted buying! But if you are thinking of buying a house in Richmond, Virginia, and, especially, if you are a first time homebuyer, the last thing you want to do is is spend money on a house and then a few months later, regret your buying decision! It makes writing out that mortgage check each month harder & harder!
But, as someone who has worked with lots of first time home buyers here in Richmond, there are some mistakes that buyers could make that perhaps they shouldn't! Knowing what these mistakes are helps to make sure you don't repeat those mistakes!
So, here is my list, in no particular order ---
Not Verifying Your Lease End!
If you are currently renting, the good news for most sellers is that you will not need to sell a home first in order to buy their home! And, you have the luxury of being flexible on your closing date to accomodate a seller's needed closing date! But you need to know when your lease is up - you want to make sure that the month you close is the same month as the end of your lease! This way you won't have to pay a mortgage AND a rent payment in the same month! And you want to make sure that you don't have to pay extra to break your lease!
Not Talking To A Lender Before You Look At Homes!
You really need to speak to a lender before you even begin to look at homes! There are a lot of loan options out there for you - and you need to know what they are! Do you need FHA or VA or VHDA financing? Will you be able to go with a conventional loan? What is the maximum loan amount you can carry? What is the price point that equals your comfortable monthly payment? Do you need the seller to pay your closing costs? If looking at condos, do you need make sure the condo complex is approved for FHA financing? Do you need grant funds to assist with the down payment? Do you need to do some clean up on your credit? Do you need time to save up some money for your home purchase? These questions - and more - need to be answered before you go out and look at homes! Only a good lender is going to be able to answer those questions for you!
Not Getting Your Own Buyer Agent To Help You!
Some buyers I have worked with have been under the mistaken assumption that they will save money by looking for homes online or driving by homes and then working with whoever the Realtor is that has the house listed for sale! But most of the buyers that I have worked with over the years have found that they really don't end up saving a lot of money - and, most of the time it ended up costing them money! If you are going to work with a Realtor who has the house listed for sale, you need to know the answer to this one question: who do they represent - me, the buyer - or the seller? This is important, because if something goes wrong with a transaction (and, if something is going to go wrong, it will usually be when you are deep into it), who is the Realtor going to represent - you or the seller?
Not Understanding the Market!
In the Richmond area, our real estate market is very very tight in many different neighborhoods & areas! In many cases, homes are coming on the market and going under contract with multiple offers in sometimes as little as 1 day! You need to understand that in this market, it is very possible that you will have to pay at or above the asking price! And you may not have the luxury of sleeping on it and thinking about it overnight! So you need to know what the market is like in those areas you are looking in, and you must be comfortable that there is a strong possibility that you will not get "a deal" or be able to buy for less than the asking price!
Relying on the Zestimates To Structure Your Offer!
A Zestimate that is put out by Zillow (or any other automated valuation model like the Zestimate) is nothing more than a computer generated valuation based on things like the tax records & other public information! BUT Zillow and other sites like it HAVE NOT been inside the home you are looking at, DOES NOT know what the home looks like inside or out, HAS NOT been inside the homes that your home is being compared to and is nothing more than a computer generated estimate! Your Buyer Agent will be able to run a valuation for you that will give you a better guage of just how the home you are considering is priced, how to structure your offer, whether or not there are competing offers for that house, whether it will meet the appraisal standards for your loan, and much more! Zillow's Zestimate WILL NOT provide that to you!
Getting Too Emotionally Attached To The House!
Buying a house today is a very emotional purchase! Yes, we can put into the computer things like area, bedrooms, baths, schools, size, etc. But when a buyer walks up the walkway to the front porch & through the front door into the house, it is the emotional feeling that decides whether or not they want to buy that house! And sometimes the emotional feeling is so strong they are willing to do anything to make sure that they get that house! Sometimes, that means that a buyer may end up foregoing things they shouldn't - home inspections, appraisal contingency, etc but that could also mean big disappointment if they don't get the house when they are in the middle of a bidding war!
Assuming There Are No Rules To Follow As A Homeowner!
One of the things many home buyers mention when they move from renting to owning is the freedom to not have to listen to a landlord and the restrictions a landlord may put on them! But keep in mind that if you are buying in a community where there is a Homeowners Association, there will still be rules to follow! Under Virginia law, you are required to receive a copy of the covenants & restrictions for the Association! Make sure you read through them within the time allowed by the law and rescind your contract if you are unable to abide by or don't like the restrictions!
Not Saving Enough Money For Any Additional Expenses!
Most home buyers know that they have to save money for their down payment and closing costs! But many home buyers, especially first time home buyers, forget about those little extra costs they will be incurring after closing! It can range from the little things - like having to buy garbage cans for outside or having to suddenly budget for future expenses like roof or siding! It can mean that instead of calling up the landlord to fix the air conditioner when it goes out, it will be up to you to call the repair person! You should make sure you have enough in savings to cover those unexpected expenses the first year!
Being Too Picky and Having No Vision!
Sometimes when looking at a house, you may not be crazy about the paint colors on the wall! Or there may be some very dated appliances in the house! You may not even like the cabinets in the kitchen or bathroom! And you may not like the landscaping in the back yard! But always remember, most things about a house can be changed over the time you own it - what you can't change is the location! If you are looking for a house in a particular area, and the area is a particularly desirable one where you are looking at multiple offers, remember, if you like the house, and you like the location and you can maybe live with some of the things in the house that are there now, don't let the house slip away from you! It may be hard to find another house that you like just as much!
Not Getting A Home Inspection!
Finally, never forego a home inspection! Even if you plan to take the house in as is condition and have no plans to ask the seller to do any repairs, you should always have a home inspection done to make sure you are okay with what you will have to do after closing!
Thinking of buying a home? Are you buying your first home and not sure where to start? Feel free to get in touch with me and I would be happy to help!