With record-low interest rates, rock-bottom home prices, and no house of their own to sell, many young adults are well-positioned for buying their first home. If you're ready to become a homeowner, watch out for these common first-time-buyer mistakes:
- Not getting a pre-qualification letter. Before you start your home search, meet with a lender or mortgage broker to determine how much money you are qualified to borrow. Having a pre-qualification letter in-hand offers peace-of-mind to you, the seller, and your real estate agent.
- Overestimating what you can afford. Go through your income, expenses, and investments. You may discover that you aren't comfortable spending what your lender believes you can afford.
- Underestimating the costs of home ownership. The expenses of owning a home go beyond your monthly mortgage payment. As a homeowner, you'll be responsible for costs landlords usually cover, including property taxes, insurance, association dues, utilities, maintenance, and repairs.
- Failing to think long-term. Cosmetic details that you can change should not discourage you from buying a home. Whether you're planning to sell the house in a few years or make it your forever home, finding a home in the right neighborhood or one with a new furnace may outweigh drawbacks such as a slightly outdated kitchen or bath.
- Spending all of your money. Avoid draining your savings to purchase a home or offering the maximum amount you're qualified to borrow. You want to have money left over to cover unexpected expenses that could arise after you buy.
- Forgoing an inspection. Before celebrating the fact you've found a home you love, hire a professional home inspector to find any problems that could impact your decision to buy.
- Forgetting the contingency clause. Consider including in your purchase agreement a contingency clause that allows you to back out if your loan falls through, the home doesn't appraise at its sale price, or you lose your job.
And once you've found the first home of your dreams, you'll need homeowners insurance to protect your investment.