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01.24.2023 | Buying

10 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a House

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Buying a home is exciting and also sometimes overwhelming! Whether you are a seasoned buyer purchasing your third investment property or a first-time homeowner, there are hundreds of things to consider to find the perfect fit. Getting a seasoned realtor on your side will help you avoid these common mistakes when buying a home!

Home-Buyer Mistake #1: Buying without a clear picture of your numbers

When buying a house, you want a clear picture of your numbers to know what you can genuinely afford (not just now but in the future). We always recommend going into the buying process with pre-approval. It’s heartbreaking to fall in love with a home only to find out it’s out of your price range. Knowing precisely what you can afford ensures you are spending your time wisely, only looking at homes within your range.

It’s also a good idea to look to the future when calculating how much you want your housing expenses to be. How stable is your income? Will your costs change drastically in the next few years? Are you expecting any significant life changes? (Having children, paying for college, moving aging parents in, etc.)

Pro Tip: Speak with an expert who will help you get on the right track. It will set you up for success, ensuring you’re in the best possible situation when purchasing.

Home-Buyer Mistake #2: Lacking vision & overlooking potential

It can be easy to get caught up in the emotion of buying a home – focusing on your first impressions and not looking beyond the ugly wallpaper. Not all elements of a home are created equally! Focus on the bones of the house – essential things like a solid structure, the layout, the age and overall condition. Try to look beyond what you see in the room right NOW. Does the house have the potential to become your dream home?

Pro Tip: Clearly define what is most important to you and know how much work you are willing to put into a house. Do you love DIY remodelling, or do you want move-in ready?

Home-Buyer Mistake #3: Not using an agent

Yes – we’re a little biased! But we genuinely believe in the value we provide to our clients. Years of experience have taught us what to look for when touring homes. We know the area and which neighbourhoods best match your needs. Experienced agents know current market conditions & the art of negotiation to help get you the best price. And we see how the offer process works and the legalities beyond it all to ensure you’re protected.

To stay on top of the most up-to-date listings, professional realtors also have access to large databanks and networks of agents.

Pro Tip: Research agents before you choose the one for you. Ask for referrals, research them online, and meet with a few to see if they seem a good fit.

Home-Buyer Mistake #4: Ignoring the neighbourhood

While you can modify the inside of your home, you can’t pick it up and switch neighbourhoods. While there’s no guarantee of great neighbours, researching before purchasing will help set you up for success!

  • Look around at the amenities in the area – shopping, groceries, parks, etc. What’s most important to you?
  • What school zone is it in?
  • Does it seem like a safe place? What are the recent crime statistics?
  • What is the overall feel of the neighbourhood?
  • Is it being developed, or is it established?
  • What types of homes are in the area?

Pro Tip: The neighbourhood your home is in plays a significant role in your life after you move in and in the pricing when you buy. There can be a considerable price difference between two similar homes in different neighbourhoods. Learn more: Our Favourite West GTA Neighbourhoods

Home-Buyer Mistake #5: Rushing to put in an offer

While sometimes you have no choice but to move quickly (like in the last few years), ideally, you want to take your time with the buying process. Rushing your offer can lead to overlooking flaws, forgoing the inspection, and ending up with a home you regret. Whenever possible, give yourself time to view multiple properties before you make any choices.

Pro Tip: Work with your agent to set a realistic timeline. Current market conditions, available inventory, and time of year can impact how quickly you’ll need to move when you find a house you love.

Home-Buyer Mistake #6: Not considering the big picture 

Buying and selling a home is expensive – many costs, like taxes, fees, and moving costs, add up. It’s not something you want to do every couple of years. How long you plan to stay in place will play a role in what features you prioritize. Look to the near future when choosing the right house for you.

Pro Tip: Look forward about 5 years before you make your list of needs & wants. While you can’t predict the future, you can realistically expect what you’ll need in a home in the next few years.

Home-Buyer Mistake #7: Making big purchases after your pre-approval

Once you have your pre-approval set, don’t make any large purchases or accumulate more debt, as it can mess up your final mortgage approval. Your lender will continue assessing your financial situation and credit score until the property is closed. A pre-approval does NOT guarantee a mortgage.

Pro-Tip: Ask your lender what ‘wiggle-room’ you have. Ideally, you don’t want to max out the amount you’ve been approved for.

Home-Buyer Mistake #8: Falling in love with staging

Look beyond the pretty furniture, art, and flowers! Staging is an incredible way to show the potential of a home. Professional staging is something we recommend to all of our sellers, as it helps people envision themselves in the space. It’s not just about buying a home – it’s about buying a lifestyle. But as a buyer, look beyond the staging to the bones of the house.

Pro Tip: Imagine how you would lay out the house with the furniture you have. Will it fit in the rooms? How would you make the home your own?

Home-Buyer Mistake #9: Not thoroughly considering your offer 

A lot of thought needs to go into the offer process. Make sure you have a detailed conversation with your realtor before you put in your first offer. Many factors affect the price – similar homes in the area, the overall market, and the home’s condition, to name a few. You want to consider all factors before putting in an offer.

If you lowball in a competitive market, your offer will most likely be rejected. You risk insulting the seller and putting yourself out of contention. If you go in too high, you risk overpaying for the property.

Pro Tip: The offer package is more than the price. Other factors can come into play, especially if you get into a bidding war. Things like your deposit amount, additional terms and conditions, and requested closing date all play a role and may help you win out.

Home-Buyer Mistake #10: Going in without a ‘needs and wants’ list

What is most important to you and your family when choosing a new home? Spend time clearly defining your list of features, breaking it into ‘must-have’ and ‘would-be-nice.’ You’ll have to make some compromises during the buying process. Knowing which features you prioritize makes these compromises that much easier. When you know what you want going in, you’ll avoid giving up anything you’ll regret later.

Pro Tip – A few things to consider on your list: Size of the home, number of bedrooms, kitchen space, appliances, storage space, outdoor space, garage, and parking. Learn more: Home Buyers Checklist

Working with a qualified realtor will help you avoid these common mistakes when buying a house. Having someone on your side to keep your best interests at heart, share their expertise and take some of the stress out of the experience is a valuable asset! It should be an exciting, thrilling time.

If you’re considering buying a home, this post may also be helpful! FAQs for Home Buyers. We’re always here to answer your questions!