For most people, a home is the largest purchase they’ll ever make, so choosing the wrong property can have disastrous implications for their wallets and well-being. Still, many homeowners feel a strong sense of pride in putting their mark on the property, building equity and having a place to truly call their own. Whether you’re a seasoned or first-time buyer, here’s a look at seven homebuying mistakes to avoid.
1. Using the wrong real estate agent. Just because your sister’s college roommate’s friend just got a real estate license doesn’t mean she’s the right agent for you. San Francisco real estate agent Herman Chan suggests vetting agents and looking for someone who does real estate full time and knows the local inventory. “You can lose an offer if you’re not responsive in a couple of hours,” he says. Request the agent’s sales data, and find out how he or she communicates. Chan recommends asking questions like these to gauge the agent’s tech-savyness: “Is it OK if I text you? Is it OK to DocuSign things? If I can’t make an open house on Sunday, can you shoot me a video?” If you prefer to check texts and emails on your phone, you may not want an agent who insists on faxing contracts.
2. Shopping before you get preapproved. Before you get serious about buying real estate, find out how much mortgage you qualify for and get a preapproval letter from your lender. “If you fall in love [with a property], write that offer and then find out you can’t afford it, it’s an emotional roller coaster you can’t afford,” Chan says. Many agents won’t even take buyers to showings until they have a preapproval letter for that very reason.