Buyers Mistakes to Avoid

Here are my 7 buyers mistakes to avoid:

  1. Not understanding the length of the buying/selling process. You know what happens when you make decisions based on optimism, time-on-the-market averages and generous promises from agents — ye old Murphy’s Law kicks in. Sellers can take months before they formally accept a buyer’s offer. Financing can get delayed, buyers may have a tough time selling their old house, rough edges discovered in the final walk-through must be smoothed, etc. Give yourself a couple extra months to complete the deal.
  2. Exposing your hand. Try to contain your enthusiasm. Otherwise, the sellers and/or their agent will know they’ve hooked a live one and assume you may forgive certain flaws because you know the place is right for you.
  3. Skipping the loan pre-approval step. For buyers, getting pre-approved for a mortgage gives you a clear idea of how much you can actually afford not what you think you can. What’s more, it identifies you as a serious buyer. Sellers with a hot property should demand nothing less than proof of pre-approval from the potential buyer’s financial institution.
  4. Assuming the appraisal equals actual value. In theory, appraisals are objective estimates of value. But several different appraisals can yield several different numbers. For example, an appraisal that’s been done for a possible refinance may have been slightly inflated to encourage that refinance. So sellers, before you put your home on the market, have an agent do a comparative market analysis to better indicate the home’s worth. And buyer’s get similar “comps” from your agent. But realize the true value of a house is what someone is willing to pay for it.
  5. Timing the market. Thousands of apprehensive sellers and buyers have been playing this game since the late 1990s, trying to time their sale. In almost all sections of the country, the market has leveled off or fallen slightly. For the most part, real-estate bubbles don’t pop, they just slowly deflate and the market levels off then surges again. Always take the approach that real estate is a long-term investment.
  6. Hiring the wrong agent. Buyers and sellers should interview several agents, from small and large firms. Get references and success stories. You may not benefit by opting for an agency’s top-volume seller. That top-producing agent may have listed 40 homes last year and sold 30, but another agent may have listed 15 and sold 14. Opting for a friend or family member who is an agent doesn’t assure you of results either. It could cause a rift. And choosing the agent who suggests the highest listing price is not a recipe for success either — nor is opting for the agent who charges the lowest commission.
  7. Missing the big picture. Opting for a dream house that will otherwise create negative quality-of-life challenges such as longer commutes, distant schools, limited access to services, higher taxes, more stringent deed restrictions, stricter homeowner associations and other chronic headache-makers can cause buyers to question their decisions after a few months. Make sure your dream house is grounded in reality.