Here's an article I wrote for the landing page of a bank client in May, 2017. The names have been taken out to protect the innocent. And me.
5 Homebuyer Mistakes to Avoid
There are many potential pitfalls when you buy a home. It’s the biggest investment most of us ever make, and it can be fiendishly complicated. But you can make it a lot simpler if you just avoid these five easily avoided mistakes that leave many homebuyers muttering to themselves for years.
Mistake #1: Skipping Pre-Qualification
It doesn’t hurt just to look, right? Wrong. Getting pre-qualified before you house hunt makes everything easier -- seeing the widest selection of homes in your price range, negotiating a great deal and getting your offer accepted quickly. Yet it’s free and usually takes just a few minutes.
With a pre-qualification letter in hand, you can:
- Shop with confidence, knowing exactly what you can afford
- Prove to agents that you’re ready to buy, so they’ll show you more homes and share hot leads on properties just coming on the market
- Offer sellers a fast sale, giving you a better negotiating position
Starting off right makes a world of difference in the homebuying experience, especially if it’s your first time. At SAMPLE Bank we make it easy, so get pre-approved online.
Mistake #2: Not Getting It in Writing
This cardinal mistake can happen at any stage. For example, a lender might verbally quote you a rate. But don’t take it for granted. Loan rates can change every day without a written good-faith estimate or letter from your lender. And there are other factors, such as your credit score or the kind of loan you need, affecting the rate you’re eligible for. So always get it in writing -- the interest rate, the length of time it’s locked in, the cost of the lock and other details.
It’s up to you to confirm that what you’ve been told matches any written documentation. Always read everything carefully, and be firm. If a seller says appliances come with the home but the contract says they don’t, don’t sign until it’s been re-written to your satisfaction. You’ll save a fortune in cash and hard feelings.
Mistake #3: Cutting Corners on Home Inspections
Don’t skimp. Hire a licensed, professional home inspector to get a detailed report on any property you’re considering. And here’s an important point: choose your own inspector, not one suggested by the real estate agent or title company. That way you know they’ll be working for you, instead of glossing over little problems that might get in the way of a sale.
An added plus of your inspection report is that it helps when negotiating needed repairs with the seller. Be sure to have your inspector confirm all repairs before close of escrow. And remember: nothing will deflate your proud feeling of home ownership faster than moving in and discovering an assortment of leaks, drips and drafts you’ll have to fix.
Mistake #4: Sabotaging Your Own Closing
Once you find the home of your dreams, fast loan approval and a quick close can decide if you’ll be the one moving into that new home. But a surprisingly large number of homebuyers actually jeopardize their own closing by being unprepared, unresponsive or less than honest.
At SAMPLE Bank, our loan professionals can make closing easier with fast, local decision-making and short turnaround times. But you can help too, by following these steps to prevent last-minute delays and problems:
- Gather documentation early. Learn which documents you’ll need for closing and track them down now, so you won’t be waiting anxiously later.
- Be complete. Our loan underwriters will need every last page of documentation (even the blanks) to establish your complete financial record. When in doubt, include it.
- Get your gift early. If a family member is helping with your down payment, deposit it in your bank account more than two months before you apply.
- Be honest. Omissions on the initial application are a big cause of delays, so be upfront about problems.
- Don’t raise any red flags. Don’t apply for new credit, get a car loan or make big purchases. Also, avoid a job change if possible. These major changes can alter your creditworthiness in the eyes of a lender.
- Get back in touch promptly. Commit to checking your phone regularly, setting email alerts or doing whatever it takes to be responsive.
Mistake #5: Setting a Risky Closing Date
Closing delays are a fact of life. Yet many homebuyers optimistically arrange to move out and move in on the same day, only to be without a home as the movers arrive and their worldly belongings are out on the sidewalk. Then it’s a frantic rush to find a motel and deal with a torrent of extra moving expenses.
Here’s a good rule of thumb: never agree to a closing date on a Friday or Monday. And, whenever possible, avoid commitments to vacate and move the same day as your closing. Instead, make arrangements for your lease to be extended up to three days past the scheduled closing date -- and schedule the movers to show up two to three days after your anticipated closing on the new home. It’s smart insurance against big expenses and frayed nerves.
When you avoid these simple mistakes, homebuying becomes a lot easier. And we’re with you at SAMPLE Savings Bank. For exceptional service and helpful answers to all your questions, visit our Mortgage Center for free pre-qualification or contact our loan officers today.