Buying a home takes more than just money – it takes careful planning and foresight.  Making sure that you’re prepared before you begin your search will make the buying process and your life a lot less complicated. It’s better to be ready now rather than waiting to complete your due diligence after you’ve found a home you’d like to make an offer on.  This is important especially now when the inventory of homes on the market is so low. In fact, in the first half of 2023, we saw the lowest number of homes listed in recorded history. With fewer homes available, competition will be fierce come springtime when buyers come out in droves. If buying a home is one of your goals for the new year, be ready! To secure your dream home amongst the competition, it’s crucial to avoid these house-hunting mistakes. 


1. Not Hiring a Buyer’s Agent

Some home buyers believe it’s better to work with the listing agent directly, with hopes that they’ll get a better deal than if they hire a buyer’s agent.  Listing agents are contractually bound to act in the best interest of their seller, not the buyer. A buyer’s agent looks out for your best interests. They will show you homes that fit your specifications and steer you away from homes that don’t. A buyer’s agent will be familiar with local real estate market values and can negotiate a fair offer for the home. They, along with your attorney, will also help you navigate through all the legal paperwork involved in purchasing a home.

2. Not Getting Pre-Approved for Mortgage

If you’re looking for a new home but have no idea how much money you’ll be able to borrow, you’re setting yourself up for failure and disappointment. Obtain a mortgage pre-approval before going into any open house. This will ensure that you don’t fall in love with a home that you can’t afford or aren’t prepared to make an offer on.  Your buyer’s agent will strongly recommend that you obtain a pre-approval from a broker who will back you up throughout the entire buying process.  

3. Settling Because You Think There’s Nothing Better

In a typical year, the inventory of homes on the market fluctuates as the year progresses. At the beginning of a normal year, we find that it’s generally a seller’s market where there is a lower inventory than there are buyers.  This makes it a very competitive climate and more difficult to find the home you want at the price you can afford.  As summer approaches and moves into the fall, there is a shift and inventory tends to increase and the amount of buyers decreases, giving buyers more choices at more affordable prices. If you’ve been looking for a while and haven’t found what you’re looking for, don’t give up! You have to stay vigilant and keep looking for the home that makes the most sense for you, your lifestyle, and your finances.  If you settle and buy something you only sort of like, you’re going to find yourself back on the market sooner rather than later.

4. Getting Distracted by Staging

Staging is important because it allows you to visualize what a space can become. Some sellers take it to the next level with savvy tricks that you could easily get distracted with. From beautiful drapes to a dining table that has a stylish place setting, sellers are trying to appeal to your heart rather than your head. As well, sellers often orchestrate a room to look larger and sometimes even cover up flooring damage. Make sure that you’re falling in love with the house itself and not the details being added while staging.  Look under the rugs and behind the clothes in the closet.  Make sure you don’t see watermarks in the basement hidden by storage.  Use a discerning eye when at showings so that you’re making the most informed offer once you’re ready to move forward on a home.

5. Thinking you’ll fix everything up

Not every house is perfect and you may find yourself wanting to upgrade different aspects to make it feel like your own. This is 100% normal and a great way to begin making your new house feel like home.  However, this is a very slippery slope that a buyer needs to carefully consider, as it is easy to underestimate how much time and money can go into these improvements.  Be sure there’s money left over in your budget for improvements when looking at homes in a certain price range.

6. Dragging Your Feet

Of course, you don’t want to rush into purchasing a house if you’re not certain, but you also should make an effort to be timely when making an offer. Another buyer getting their offer accepted first because you’re dragging your feet can be heartbreaking. It can be very discouraging to start your buying process back at square one, especially when you thought you found your new home.  Bidding wars can happen in any market, so making sure you have the best buyer’s agent on your team will help you stay on track to get the house you want.

Embarking on the journey of buying a home demands careful planning, foresight, and the avoidance of common house-hunting mistakes. With the current scarcity of homes on the market, being prepared is so important. This new year, set yourself up for success by following these guidelines and avoiding these common mistakes. This way, you’ll be better equipped to buy the house of your dreams!

Is buying a house one of your goals for 2024?