Author Topic: First Time Homebuyer Mistakes  (Read 3016 times)

bray144k

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First Time Homebuyer Mistakes
« on: July 09, 2019, 08:58:13 AM »
Hi All! Long time reader/lurker of the forums. My wife and I are starting the process to buy our first home. We are looking in the Salt Lake City area. Tell me all the ways I'm about to screw up as first time home buyers usually do. I'm looking to avoid some of these mistakes that can be tremendously costly.

haflander

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Re: First Time Homebuyer Mistakes
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2019, 09:07:43 AM »
ooo great question! I'm 1-3 years away from this as well. Maybe others could link to any similar older threads? In any case, there's plenty of collective wisdom around here.

Mostly PTF.

RWD

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Re: First Time Homebuyer Mistakes
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2019, 09:22:01 AM »
How to search the forums: https://www.google.com/search?q=buying+house+site:forum.mrmoneymustache.com

Some previous threads that might be relevant:
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/real-estate-and-landlording/buying-a-first-house-advice/
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/buying-our-first-house/
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/first-time-buying-a-house-how-much-to-spend/
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/buying-house-in-a-floodplain/

General recommendations:
- Put down enough to avoid PMI
- Get mortgage quotes from multiple lenders
- Don't buy a more expensive house than you need, even if you can afford it
- Try to pick a location that will minimize the distance of your routine driving routes (preferably allowing walking/biking instead)
- Be aware of floodplains

YttriumNitrate

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Re: First Time Homebuyer Mistakes
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2019, 09:25:56 AM »
My number one piece of advice is to find two houses that you would like to live in before putting an offer in on one. This will help keep you from getting emotionally attached to a property before you own it.

Dogastrophe

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Re: First Time Homebuyer Mistakes
« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2019, 09:27:25 AM »
Several years ago we moved from a small apartment to a small house (<1800 sq ft).  For us, it was neglecting to fully consider all the small to medium costs that came up in the first year.  For us, it was garden tools, lawn mower, trimmer, snow shovels, blinds, curtains, paint, paints, etc.   Seemed like every weekend we were at Home Depot buying something.  These small sub-$100 purchases add up fast.

We also didn't account well for water bills, higher electricity, heating oil, increased insurance.

Edit: or are you talking about the buying process mistakes?  If so, don't buy more house than you need.  We had a guest room that only saw a guest for 2 or 3 weekends a year!  We had a partially finished basement that sat empty for years. 
« Last Edit: July 09, 2019, 09:50:16 AM by Dogastrophe »

DadJokes

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Re: First Time Homebuyer Mistakes
« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2019, 09:46:49 AM »
Set a budget before you start looking at houses and do not even look at houses that exceed the budget.

I think the vast majority of people do this. Their realtor talks them into looking at houses a little beyond the initial budget, and they fall in love with it and end up getting way more house than they need. We didn't do this with our first house, but we did with our second. We went from a $230k, 1800 sq ft house to a $325k 2250 sq ft house, when our initial budget for the second house was only $250k. That's a $400/month cash flow difference, at the minimum.

bray144k

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Re: First Time Homebuyer Mistakes
« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2019, 10:05:51 AM »
These are all great pieces of advice! Thank you!

Sibley

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Re: First Time Homebuyer Mistakes
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2019, 12:52:13 PM »
Meet the neighbors. As many as you can. Ask each of them about the other neighbors.

newloginuser

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Re: First Time Homebuyer Mistakes
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2019, 01:24:20 PM »
Figure out if there is anything you and your wife can do to "fix up" the house. You may think you aren't handy, I would have said the same about myself. In the last year and a half since purchasing my house with my wife, we have replaced carpet flooring with wood, fixed the stairs, scraped popcorn ceiling/sanded to make flat (surprisingly adds a lot of light), painted, added a few recessed lights, installed fans, and we plan to tackle addressing the insulation in the attic to try and improve our efficiency of our home. Most of those may sound difficult but they are mostly just manual labor. We also had friends with most of the larger tools and also helped with getting a few of the projects started.

second piece of advice is buy less than you think you need. Not only are expenses going to be more than you expect, you will have rooms that will (likely) be empty and you may feel the need to fill them for no other reason then they are empty or you want your home to look like an HGTV home. Additionally, budget how much you'd like to spend on a house, and then try to buy it for less. All the home repairs/extras have to be paid somehow. It is easier to pay for them within your allocated house budget than to factor in a "reserve or replacement fund" as it is very likely you will have issues with your home in the first year (depending on age and other factors of course).

rothwem

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Re: First Time Homebuyer Mistakes
« Reply #9 on: July 10, 2019, 06:38:39 AM »
Set a budget before you start looking at houses and do not even look at houses that exceed the budget.

I think the vast majority of people do this. Their realtor talks them into looking at houses a little beyond the initial budget, and they fall in love with it and end up getting way more house than they need. We didn't do this with our first house, but we did with our second. We went from a $230k, 1800 sq ft house to a $325k 2250 sq ft house, when our initial budget for the second house was only $250k. That's a $400/month cash flow difference, at the minimum.

I don’t totally agree with this. For me, seeing the pricier house made me realize I wasn’t getting a whole lot more for my money than something $100k cheaper.

Also, it might get me shot around here, but I’m not super opposed to PMI either.  It adds like 0.5-0.75 percent to the effective APR, which I think is worth it given that you get to hold onto more money.  PMI does seem to vary from lender to lender though.

The biggest piece of advice I could offer is to look for a duplex and house hack it. At least think about it. It’ll get you in the mindset of looking at your house as a financial item, rather than an emotional thing. At the end of the day, it’s a roof over your head not a “sanctuary”.

My other piece of advice is that the realtor is NOT your friend. They want to sell you something. Even “your” realtor. They get paid when you buy a house, so they’ll pressure you to buy something so they can get paid. Resist the pressure to do stupid shit like waiving all contingencies just to get the house under contract. If it’s not right, it’s not right.

Oh, and location. If you have to choose between a nice house in a crappy location vs a shit house in a good location, do the shitty house. Seriously.

reeshau

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Re: First Time Homebuyer Mistakes
« Reply #10 on: July 10, 2019, 08:28:46 AM »
Oh, and location. If you have to choose between a nice house in a crappy location vs a shit house in a good location, do the shitty house. Seriously.

My variation on this:  get the smallest house in the neighborhood, not the largest.  Maybe this is redundant on an MMM board, but it also has to do with falling in love with a house.  The neighborhood determines your value.

Also, look at the quality of schools, even if you don't plan to have children.  Know that you will be paying for great schools, and the challenge will be to keep them there.  If you don't have school-age kids yet, look for schools on the rise.

Uturn

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Re: First Time Homebuyer Mistakes
« Reply #11 on: July 10, 2019, 08:58:55 AM »
Do not tell the realtor what amount you are qualified for, tell them your budget.  If you tell them you are qualified for $300k, but only want to spend $200k, they will show you junk at $200k.  Even a "buyer's" agent is incentivized to up-sell you. 

Don't get hung up on paint and ugly fixtures.  Those are easy fixes and good negotiating items. 

Look at the slope of the yard, better yet, look during a heavy rain.  Is there drainage issues?  This can be very expensive to fix.

Assume the HVAC is going to blow up the week after you move in, don't assume your home warranty is going to help.  Have enough reserves to deal with that.

As someone else said, you are not only buying that house, you are buying the neighborhood.  Get a feel for the area, go to the grocery stores, visit at different times of the day and day of the week. 

That anxiety that you will feel from the moment you put in an offer until about 2 months after you move in is normal.  However, if you get a weird gut feeling that this isn't the right house, then it's not.  Walk away.  Buying a house is not like it is on TV.  You don't look at 3 and choose.  The last house I bought was probably number 20. 

bray144k

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Re: First Time Homebuyer Mistakes
« Reply #12 on: July 10, 2019, 09:04:17 AM »
Do not tell the realtor what amount you are qualified for, tell them your budget.  If you tell them you are qualified for $300k, but only want to spend $200k, they will show you junk at $200k.  Even a "buyer's" agent is incentivized to up-sell you.

Already experienced this, and we haven't even gone to any showings yet. We live well below our means so we have a pretty set budget. However, we will definitely be qualified for much more then our budget is.

twe

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Re: First Time Homebuyer Mistakes
« Reply #13 on: July 10, 2019, 07:40:39 PM »
Real estate markets aren't rational. A house that has a 20 year old roof, 18 year old HVAC and furnace, and 22 year old water heater will be the same price as an identical one next door that has all of those brand new, despite being $25k+ to replace. I would make new (5 years or younger) roof and HVAC/Furnace a must. Water heater and appliances are much cheaper.

YttriumNitrate

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Re: First Time Homebuyer Mistakes
« Reply #14 on: July 11, 2019, 07:03:31 AM »
Do not tell the realtor what amount you are qualified for, tell them your budget.  If you tell them you are qualified for $300k, but only want to spend $200k, they will show you junk at $200k.  Even a "buyer's" agent is incentivized to up-sell you.
I would take that a step farther and flat out tell the realtor that you are only qualified for $200k even if you could qualify for $300k. To go even further, ask the bank to reduce the amount they say you are qualified for. For example, even if you could qualify for a $400k loan, banks will be more than happy to write a pre-qualification letter saying you are approved up to $200k.

erutio

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Re: First Time Homebuyer Mistakes
« Reply #15 on: July 11, 2019, 08:55:56 AM »
I echo the advice that to look into the neighborhood more that just the house when buying for the first time. 
But for a first time home buyer, what does this mean?   Here are some ideas:

- Take a long walk through the neighborhood and surrounding blocks in the early evening, like 6-8pm. What looks like the perfect home and street may have a different vibe in daylight versus after dark.  Are there kids or families out walking or playing?  Are the streets quiet or busy with traffic? Are there people walking their dogs?  People running/biking?  Did you feel safe walking?  Are these things important to you?

- Go to the local grocery store, or the one you will likely do the majority of your shopping. You can learn a lot about the culture of your neighborhood there, as well as see if they stock the kind of foods you like.

Abe

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Re: First Time Homebuyer Mistakes
« Reply #16 on: July 11, 2019, 09:18:38 PM »
I agree with scoping out the neighborhood at several times (weekday evening, weekend daytime, Saturday night, etc) before buying. Location ultimately will be more important than superficial details. Pretty much anything inside the house can be changed at some point if you want. You can't change a neighborhood easily.

Also, ignore whatever a bank tells you regarding the amount you qualify for. It is almost certainly far more than you should spend on housing.

Budget several thousand dollars of random repairs after you buy, and include that in the cost of the house. This is even if the inspection finds no major issues! This strategy will keep you from having surprises when something breaks a year after you move in. Few people plunk down thousands of dollars on appliances and sell the house 2-3 years later. A more likely scenario is that all the appliances are nearing the end of their useable life and will need to be replaced over the first few years. This includes the AC, which can be a major expense (several thousand!).

SunnyDays

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Re: First Time Homebuyer Mistakes
« Reply #17 on: July 12, 2019, 09:33:53 PM »
Don't rush and don't settle.  I looked at houses for 2 years before I found the right one.  And it was the only one I put an offer on.  There were some that technically checked all the boxes but just did not feel right.  When I found the right one, I knew it as soon as I walked in the door.  And no, it wasn't because it was fancy.  Anything but.  It was solid, in decent condition, and had a good layout and good proportions (which, now that I think about it, was a big factor for me), but was quite dated.  (Read, ugly.)  You have to be able to look beyond the cosmetics and see the actual structure and the potential, otherwise, you will end up buying because it's pretty, but over your budget.  Don't get sucked in, there is always another house out there.

AMandM

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Re: First Time Homebuyer Mistakes
« Reply #18 on: July 12, 2019, 09:47:53 PM »
When there are things you don't like in a house you are looking at, ask yourself whether they are fixable.  Train tracks nearby? Can't fix that. Leaky toilet, outdated decor, overgrown yard? Fixable (but allow for the cost/time of fixing it). Office too close to the playroom? Potentially fixable by reassigning room functions. Etc.

But the most important is to spend less than the bank/realtor want you to.

Finances_With_Purpose

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Re: First Time Homebuyer Mistakes
« Reply #19 on: July 12, 2019, 10:23:53 PM »
Real estate markets aren't rational. A house that has a 20 year old roof, 18 year old HVAC and furnace, and 22 year old water heater will be the same price as an identical one next door that has all of those brand new, despite being $25k+ to replace. I would make new (5 years or younger) roof and HVAC/Furnace a must. Water heater and appliances are much cheaper.

So, so true.  Neighbor listed a place for sale a while back, and used our purchase as her main comp.  Made zero sense whatsoever, as she owned the most run-down place around, and the smallest, too, except for ours.  She didn't end up getting it, though she did get more than you ever would have expected.  When we bought, I noticed pretty quickly that people don't price those things out, even the very big ones (A/C, roof, etc.). 

Abe

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Re: First Time Homebuyer Mistakes
« Reply #20 on: July 13, 2019, 12:34:24 PM »
Real estate markets aren't rational. A house that has a 20 year old roof, 18 year old HVAC and furnace, and 22 year old water heater will be the same price as an identical one next door that has all of those brand new, despite being $25k+ to replace. I would make new (5 years or younger) roof and HVAC/Furnace a must. Water heater and appliances are much cheaper.

So, so true.  Neighbor listed a place for sale a while back, and used our purchase as her main comp.  Made zero sense whatsoever, as she owned the most run-down place around, and the smallest, too, except for ours.  She didn't end up getting it, though she did get more than you ever would have expected.  When we bought, I noticed pretty quickly that people don't price those things out, even the very big ones (A/C, roof, etc.).

Yeah, the first time we bought a house it wasn't a thing we figured - we both assumed people just maintained their houses. The inspector noted the AC was near the end of its usable life and very inefficient compared to modern ones, so we asked for a $5k allowance to replace it. The seller balked (obviously was hoping to dump that problem on the buyers!). Eventually we compromised on a half allowance ($2.5k). Part of the reason they negotiated was we were putting down well over 20% and the price of the house was well below our annual salary. That's another reason buying well under what you're qualified for is a good idea!

Finances_With_Purpose

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Re: First Time Homebuyer Mistakes
« Reply #21 on: July 13, 2019, 09:38:59 PM »
Some things we did that worked well and things we learned about homebuying:

1. Set a budget.  Don't tell anyone what you're doing above the budget.  The over-selling is endless and can be high-pressure.  Most agents have almost zero incentive to stay anywhere near your stated price and will push you up. 

2.  Shop around a while before you even consider getting into the realtor thing.  See what prices are doing.  See what areas you like. 

3.  Meet. The. Neighbors.  As many as you reasonably can.  Ask them about the place.  About the area.  You'd be surprised how candid they can be.  I can't overstate this enough. 

Worked for us: we met the neighbors before we even looked at the house.  They loved this area.  They're all friends.  One guy who lived here for decades liked it so much that he waited long enough to buy an empty lot in a better spot to build his dream house almost across the street so he could stay here.  Suffice it to say, we haven't had neighbor issues at all, and we love the area.

Hasn't worked for others: at one point in life, we lived near a house with septic issues.  Buyer after buyer would cycle through.  Nobody ever got it fixed--the house had other land issues that we think caused the issue.  Zero potential buyers ever stopped at the houses nearby to ask.  Big mistake: we would have happily told them about it (in hopes of getting someone there who would fix it). 

Second example: a house listed for sale near us once.  It had well issues--not enough water pressure/pumping.  Prior break-ins (due to the way it was accessible to several areas unlike every other house around).  Etc., etc.  Zero potential buyers ever stopped to ask anyone that we know of.  And anyone near there would have been happy to tell potential buyers.  Instead, some folks bought it not knowing what they had gotten themselves into. 

Real estate is local.  The people who live there know more about the area than anyone else around, period, bar none.  Neighbors can tell you if too many people have loud dogs, frustrations with the area, you name it.  All you have to do is be nice and ask them.  Many, many people are happy to tell you about their own experience somewhere, and then they'll also fill you in on whatever they know about the other place, too.  The area may be overvalued or undervalued relative to similar-priced areas, and that's the best way to know. 

4.  Don't buy too much house.  Buy based upon what you need now.  Not what you may want someday.  E.g., we know of a family that bought a huge house planning to have 4+ kids.  Only problem: they learned shortly after that they can't have kids.  So they have zero kids.  They eventually moved towards adopting some, but the house was gone by then: not only did they not need it, it reminded them of something that they couldn't have. 

5.  Location.  Buy the smallest house in the nice area, not the nicest house in the area.  Always a better value.  Land is also usually a plus as far as appreciation goes; it can always be further developed.  (But again: be the small place, not the largest place.) 

6.  Test drive the commute.  Visit the place at various times of day.  We loved our current place in the evenings when we visited--that's part of why we bought it.  We wouldn't have known that had we merely relied upon the tour/sale visits. 

7.  Do some serious math on maintenance costs.  Not just money: time.  Home ownership involves a LOT of extra time, especially if you have much to maintain (yard, older stuff, etc.), and especially in the first few years.  Ditto cash: budget for really high maintenance costs the first few years, just in case, and also because you're new at it.  Things get easier over time. 

We did the math, yet I'm still surprised how much maintenance costs run.  And how ugly some time/money tradeoffs are, even if you like DIY.  (If you don't like DIY, then budget a lot more, especially if you're in a HCOL area.  In those areas, you can't even get someone to your house without quite a bit of cost.) 

8.  If you're able to do an option period, do it.  Don't skimp on inspections.  And, here's the kicker: set aside a budget for all that -- a high one -- and be perfectly fine blowing it and walking away from a deal.  It's a shopping cost.  It's not part of your purchase.  Think of it as what you pay to look at all houses in general rather than that specific one. 

Psychologically, it's hard to stop a deal once you have a few thousand dollars spent, but economically, it's very often the right thing to do.  (We're driven by sunk cost fallacies that make it hard for humans to walk away, even from very bad deals, once we have a little skin already in the game.) 

We walked away from one, after discovering some issues with the place.  We negotiated, but ended up walking away.  Best decision ever.  Saved us tons of money and headaches.  We ended up immediately finding another place far better, which is where we are now.

9.  Budget to spend more once you own a home.  It feels like "yours" and there's just some sort of unspoken incentive to spend more.  We lived mustachian before we moved, so we weren't as swayed by that, however, it's a real thing and it's hard to avoid a little extra spending here or there on things you would never do as a renter (e.g. paint, trim, whatever).

10.  Find a realtor through a close friend, or better, a business person you have a longstanding relationship with.  You want the realtor to feel burn if the person does you wrong because it burns a relationship.  You don't want a realtor who looks at you just as a cash-making opportunity. 

Our realtor advised us to strongly consider walking away from a deal where she'd make a guaranteed sale and it may well have all worked out.  She lost a sale and we had to start over, but you know if the realtor is cautioning you, despite the financial incentive, it may be a bad idea.  But that willingness the realtor had is why I now refer her more clients. 

11.  Everything is negotiable: you can also negotiate realtor commissions if you're in a market where that's doable, have something to offer (e.g. future referrals), and/or can figure ways to make it work.  We did it in hot markets, so I'm sure others will find it more doable. 

Finances_With_Purpose

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Re: First Time Homebuyer Mistakes
« Reply #22 on: July 15, 2019, 07:58:29 PM »
Good point on inspections. 

For the ones we did, I consulted a commercial real estate investor I know and got his deal-buster guy to come out.  I paid more than most folks, but it was worth it. 

With that said, I completely agree: it's hard to find good inspectors.  Most of them get referred to you by people who only get paid if the deal goes through.  They'll point out something so bad that everyone would get sued (e.g. mold-filled walls), but many of them aren't going out of their way to point out the things you might care about. 

WGH

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Re: First Time Homebuyer Mistakes
« Reply #23 on: July 26, 2019, 10:49:27 AM »
+ 1 on not buying more house than you need. That formal dining room with the wood floors looks great but it gets used maybe twice a year and you need to furnish it and clean it and ugh.

Focus on the things that matter most to you. After having two homes with tankless water heaters I can never go back.

Also + 1 on the schools and the neighborhood matters more than the house. Take your time to research.

Fishindude

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Re: First Time Homebuyer Mistakes
« Reply #24 on: July 29, 2019, 07:29:49 AM »
Number one would be buying more house than what you truly need and slamming yourself too far in debt over it.   If your mortgage is too expensive it limits what other things you can do and enjoy in life, plus the more expensive houses tend to come with higher taxes, higher utility costs, are more costly to maintain and keep up, etc.
Much better to buy something plenty cheap and fix it up, pay as you go over the long term.

Villanelle

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Re: First Time Homebuyer Mistakes
« Reply #25 on: July 30, 2019, 12:44:05 PM »
I think we shopped for the life we imagined, not the life we would actually live.

We actually found two of the same model, a few hundred yards away from each other.  Our agent talked us in to putting bids on both, but we were really hoping for A.  It was higher up the hill and had a much better view out the back windows, and off the the back deck.  How lovely it would be to sit out there, eating meals or drinking coffee or cocktails!  We were really hoping that one would come back with the better counter.  They didn't, but far, and I was somewhat disappointed, but at least practical enough not to pay more for a view. 

We never ONCE sat on our back deck, beverage or no.  And that had nothing to do with the view.  That's not just how we live.  It might have been a nice idea, and some people surely would have.  But that taught me that I need to be realistic, not idealistic, about how we live when looking at homes. 

Also, while the earlier point about your relator trying to get you into an expensive home is a good one, when it comes to nickels and dimes (or $100s and $1000s) suddenly their motivation switches.  They would much rather make a $250k sale than lose a $270 sale.  The difference in commission isn't much.  Mostly that matters for the sellers--a realtor may well try to convince them to accept a lower offer or put in a more modest counter offer simply to get the deal closed-- but it is something to keep in the back of your mind. 

BlueHouse

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Re: First Time Homebuyer Mistakes
« Reply #26 on: July 30, 2019, 01:30:19 PM »
My 2 cents:

The biggest mistakes I see people make is they rush, they get attached, and then they get emotional.  So avoid all of those and you'll be fine.  Never make the mistake that you'll be priced out of the market, because if you are, just rent for a few years and then you can get back in cheaper.


bray144k

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Re: First Time Homebuyer Mistakes
« Reply #27 on: July 30, 2019, 02:17:55 PM »
Thanks in part to this thread, we were convinced not to rush into buying a property too soon. We will be taking the next year to shop around and find something within our budget, in a nice neighborhood, as that seems to be the most important takeaways. Thank you all for the input.

Uturn

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Re: First Time Homebuyer Mistakes
« Reply #28 on: July 31, 2019, 06:08:14 AM »
You need to find the "right" neighborhood, not necessarily the "nice" neighborhood.  I moved from a working class neighborhood to a "nicer" one years back.  I would have loved to be back in the "lesser" neighborhood.  I knew my neighbors, we had block parties, folks looked out for each other.  It was a community.  In the "nice" neighborhood, I knew more of my neighbor's gardeners than I did neighbors. 

Look for what you want in a neighborhood, anything else won't be right for you.

A Fella from Stella

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Re: First Time Homebuyer Mistakes
« Reply #29 on: July 31, 2019, 08:53:37 AM »
It was the housing bubble. We paid more than the home was worth after the appraisal came in. We should have said, "we'll pay what its worth," and let them put it back on the market if they could get more, but like a couple of fools we did them a favor.

I then got the very best sliding glass door - the glass is copper-infused, or so they say. I didn't need anything like that. A normal door would have been fine. Lastly, I paid someone to install blinds because I didn't know they would be easy to do on m own.

bray144k

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Re: First Time Homebuyer Mistakes
« Reply #30 on: August 01, 2019, 10:10:35 AM »
You need to find the "right" neighborhood, not necessarily the "nice" neighborhood.  I moved from a working class neighborhood to a "nicer" one years back.  I would have loved to be back in the "lesser" neighborhood.  I knew my neighbors, we had block parties, folks looked out for each other.  It was a community.  In the "nice" neighborhood, I knew more of my neighbor's gardeners than I did neighbors. 

Look for what you want in a neighborhood, anything else won't be right for you.

My fault for using the wrong adjective! Right neighborhood is a much better description than nice neighborhood.

neophyte

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Re: First Time Homebuyer Mistakes
« Reply #31 on: August 05, 2019, 10:24:06 AM »
Trust your gut, not your realtor. I had my doubts about some roof and property tax issues. I should have pushed harder on them from the beginning but I allowed my realtor to assure me that everything would be fine. Two years later I've got a brand new roof and property taxes that went up 400%.

I'd still have bought the house, but I would have tried to drive a harder bargain from the beginning.

haflander

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Re: First Time Homebuyer Mistakes
« Reply #32 on: August 05, 2019, 10:32:50 AM »
Trust your gut, not your realtor. I had my doubts about some roof and property tax issues. I should have pushed harder on them from the beginning but I allowed my realtor to assure me that everything would be fine. Two years later I've got a brand new roof and property taxes that went up 400%.

I'd still have bought the house, but I would have tried to drive a harder bargain from the beginning.

Can you expand on this? I get the maintenance issues and inspectors and protecting yourself that way. But how could you know what property taxes will do? Why did they jump like that? You're saying that your realtor knew that would happen? How could you even force them to tell you this if they knew you wouldn't like the answer...?

neophyte

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Re: First Time Homebuyer Mistakes
« Reply #33 on: August 07, 2019, 05:52:58 AM »
It has to do with tax abatements for rehabbed properties. Basically, the value of the house went up about 400% and the seller hadn't submitted the proper paperwork for a 10 year tax abatement on the increased value. Realtor tried to assure me that it would be fine, but I had to go digging with the city to find out that that wouldn't be the case.  I did find out right before closing and the seller refused to budge. It took me more than 2 years to find my house, so in hindsight I'm glad I bought it anyway, but it annoys me to think about it.

Candace

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Re: First Time Homebuyer Mistakes
« Reply #34 on: August 07, 2019, 07:40:45 AM »
Among the other excellent advice upthread, take a look at the landscaping, especially trees. I've got a row of Leeland Cyprus (sp?) between my house and my neighbors' house. I'm spending money every year trying to keep them from deteriorating. They'll be more expensive than a new roof if they have to be removed and replaced with something else.

Frugal Lizard

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Re: First Time Homebuyer Mistakes
« Reply #35 on: August 07, 2019, 08:32:17 AM »
When there are things you don't like in a house you are looking at, ask yourself whether they are fixable.  Train tracks nearby? Can't fix that. Leaky toilet, outdated decor, overgrown yard? Fixable (but allow for the cost/time of fixing it). Office too close to the playroom? Potentially fixable by reassigning room functions. Etc.

But the most important is to spend less than the bank/realtor want you to.

and the reverse is also true - if there are things that you are falling in love with - the large porch or the garden view from the kitchen window, ask how hard would it be to add create these elements on a different house?

I am lucky in that transforming real estate is my profession.  We have bought three houses that were essentially missing the charm of a beautiful garden but had the big trees and large lots or wonky circulation or poorly placed storage. I would leverage my design skills and the Hubs would leverage his DIY energy and we would transform our places from the unnoticeable house on the block to the most welcoming. 

I have a theory that most people can't see grading issues, and poor drainage around the foundation but our lizard brains subconsciously are picking up "dampness - danger, unsafe water, spiders and snakes - could be lurking. These problems can be somewhat masked by a dry period during the listing period, a generous use of the bleach or scents and the constant running of dehumidifiers. But our deep subconcious is saying danger danger.   And so this is making the property less attractive.  And sometimes the problem is ghastly difficult to fix and buyers should get their asses away fast.  But other times it is a pretty quick fix with larger gutters and relocating/adding rain leaders.  In our current house - two adults digging for three hours and three yards of clear stone and some subdrain pipe and it was fixed.   

But as others have said, the highway, wrecking hard, hideous monstrosity  or quarry next door is not going anywhere.