Cheryl Fleming, GRI, ABR's Blog
Are you in the market for your first home purchase? If so, congratulations! This is an amazingly exciting stage of life, and we know you must be excited.
Many first-time buyers run into issues that can turn their new home into a source of stress. Here are three common pitfalls you should watch out for as you purchase your first home.
Biting Off More Than You Can Chew
Far and away the most common pitfall that first-time home buyers run into is with setting realistic expectations. It’s a tough market for first-time buyers, and many are tempted to jump in deeper than they can manage. Just because you can get a mortgage without a full down payment doesn’t necessarily mean that you should, for example.
Your mortgage payment is going to be a reasonable percentage of your take-home pay, but don’t let it get too high. Many experts recommend 25 to 30%. And consider what your financial situation will look like if in a few years you add a child or two to the mix.
Everyone’s situation is different, but none of us have infinite money. Take the time to calculate what you can truly afford, and then stick to those figures. You may well tour your dream home as you look at available properties, but living there won’t be dreamy at all if it puts you in financial distress.
Not Considering Non-Mortgage Costs
If you’ve been renting all of your adult life, you need to be prepared for some non-mortgage costs that you probably haven’t had to pay yet.
First, understand that all repairs to your new home and property are your responsibility. If you have a $2,000 sewer repair crop up in the first 2 months of living there, do you have a way to pay for it? When you’re budgeting for your home purchase, make sure there’s enough left over to cover unexpected issues like these.
Second, if you’re bringing a full down payment to the table, there’s one more non-mortgage cost that could catch you by surprise: property tax. Make sure you know before you buy what property taxes are like on similar homes, and save 1/12th of that amount each month.
Making a Purchase Decision Too Quickly
A third pitfall for first-time homebuyers is rushing the purchase decision. Don’t get us wrong, we want you to buy a house! But your house is a long-lasting investment. Get to know various parts of your city, and take your time surveying what properties are available in your price tier.
Most first-time homebuyers won’t be in a position to sell and move up in house for at least five years. So don’t rush the purchase decision. Be sure before you commit.