Oh, Friend, these are exciting times.
You’re looking for your first (or next) new (or new-to-you) home, and there’s only about a kerbillion details to keep in mind, right?
Well, like the Best Financial Friend we are, we’re stopping by with some hot tips to add to the pile of helpful info you have swimming around in your noggin.
You’ll thank us later.
We’ve done a little digging and found four of the top things people do wrong when they’re house hunting, so read on and let us save you some money.
1. Not Future-Proofing (if you possibly can)
Ok, the best we can ever do is take a really good, educated guess about the next five or ten years, but when you’re talking about the investment of your lifetime, it pays to overthink this just enough.
Whether you’re buying your first cozy little house or browsing for a nest that’s about to be empty, it’s easy to convince yourself that it’ll be easy to add on, trade up, or downsize. That might even be true for you when the time comes, but (and we hate to yuck your yum) it might not.
There are a whole host of reasons things might not cruise along exactly as you planned, so consider some housing flexibility. Look at homes a little (not massively) bigger or smaller than you need today or for cool spaces that will be simple to repurpose if you need them. That way, you can love your home even longer.
Oh, and speaking of things you can’t control, think about the possibility of future property development, road improvements, and other changes that might be in the works in the area you’re browsing. Realtors are smart as heck, and yours will know if the local government has approved plans for improvements (or whatever the opposite of those would be) in your prospective new neighborhood.
2. Suffering from Tunnel Vision
You pull up to that perfect place with the pristine landscaping and exactly the brass door knocker you had on your vision board; your eyeballs turn into big pink hearts, and it gets hard to see. Hey, we get it.
Just shake it off for a second, though, and take a look, and listen, and sniff around, ok? (Just don’t make it weird.) Your dream home could be in your dream neighborhood, and we hope it is, or it could have the interstate running through the back yard and be next to a plant that, for some reason, manufactures farts.
So go outside through that front door you’ve been dreaming of and take a careful look around the neighborhood for the noises, the sights, or the sounds that you won’t be able to live with. If possible, catch up with some of the neighbors and test out the commute to and from work during peak drive time to get the best picture of what living there will be like.
3. Overpromising (Yourself) and Underperforming
You can hear it echoing through newly-bought houses all over the world: “We’ll just take down that wall, add an island in the kitchen, upcycle that credenza into a bar, open up the stairway to the skylight, and add a bonus room off the patio where we can meditate.”
Big plans, but let’s face it, you can’t tell the difference between a credenza and a chifforobe, and some of us are going to struggle to live up to those home-improvement projects. Or we’ll end up settling for something not-so-great.
We want you to have big ambitions, we just don’t want you to bite off more than you can chew, AND we don’t want you to get frustrated and end up living in a house you don’t love.
The bottom line here is that too many people buy a house with HUGE DIY ambitions, end up making next-to-no improvements, and then take a loss when they sell. If you don’t want to join that unhappy group, choose a place that’s as move-in ready as possible and factor in the cost of renovations from the start. (Oh, and over-estimate those costs, so you’re prepared for fluctuating supply costs.)
4. Forgetting About the Tippy Top and the Rock Bottom
You’ll walk through the house and open every cupboard, drawer, and closet door. Then you’ll get an inspection to pour over all of the details you missed. And when it’s all said and done, you’ll feel like you know everything you could possibly know about your next house. And you’ll be close to, but not entirely, right.
Home inspectors rarely, if ever, climb up on the roof to check it over from outside, and they can’t get access to check for any issues in the buried pipes or electrical lines that might live in the ground. While the fact that there are no obvious signs of a leak in the roof or issues with the sewer or water in the basement should give you some peace of mind, those can also be some of the most expensive repairs you’ll face as a homeowner.
Save yourself the hassle and sleep better in your new home by making sure you find a home inspector that carries “Errors and Omissions” insurance. We’re 100% sure your home inspector never wants to make an error or an omission, but that policy can help them reimburse you if something falls through the cracks.
Now, we know this is a lot to think about, and we definitely don’t want you to worry, so just remember that if you have any questions about your mortgage, or anything else, we’re here to help. We may not have all the answers, but we know a lot of great people that can help you get on the road to your new home.