6 House Hunting Pitfalls To Avoid
By Erika Napoletano
These days, I live in my dream home. However, it wasn’t easy to find, and in the process of searching, I learned a lot about the buying process. Now that I’m settled in my new home and have made some improvements to it, I got to thinking: How can I help other buyers avoid some of the pitfalls of house hunting?
I reached out to Arron Sweeney, founder of Your Berkeley and realtor at King Realty Group in San Francisco, as well as Lance King, broker and owner of King Realty Group. They shared six home buying hang-ups and how to avoid them.
1. Missing out on the perfect place. Hundreds of new homes hit the market every day, and if you’re not using all of the house hunting tools available, your dream home could slip by unnoticed – or worse, someone else might snatch it up before you even know that it’s for sale. You can get instant notifications on your smartphone when new listings come on the market. This way, you can stress less and think more about window treatments than missing your window of opportunity.
2. Choosing the wrong lender. Few things are more frustrating than finding the property you’ve been looking for only to find out that the loan you were promised isn’t coming through. “We always tell our clients to use our preferred lenders because they’ll get great rates, the VIP treatment, and if there’s a problem they’ll find out on the front end,” says Sweeney. Preferred lenders earn their preferred status only after they’ve consistently delivered loan closings. Seek out preferred lenders, and don’t be afraid to interview two or three to find your ideal fit.
3. Fixated on price per square foot. Are you searching by price per square foot? King suggests that if you’re using this as one of your search criteria, you might want to think again. Measurements, he says, are not guaranteed to be accurate, and mis-measurements can place appropriately priced homes outside of your search parameters.
4. Desperation. When prices are on the rise, buyers get antsy and sellers get greedy. “Many buyers have been outbid on numerous properties and have just become tired of looking,” says Sweeney. “As a result, they are placing ridiculously high offers on properties that just aren’t worth it – just to get into a home this minute.” Avoid the temptation and build yourself a backup plan. Have your real estate agent recommend short-term or corporate rentals options, so you’ll have a soft place to land while you wait for your dream home to appear on the market.
5. Foregoing inspections. In a perfect world, sellers would disclose every single issue to the prospective buyers. Since that’s not the case, inspections are a great idea; yet one that Sweeney sees clients skipping too often. “I have a strong knowledge of construction and always advise my clients to pony up and have both an independent pest and contractor inspection,” says Sweeney. Inspections identify red flags and can address the general state of a property. Plus, they can provide leverage when it comes time to negotiate.
6. Buying a “project.” The unwritten rule of renovating states that it will take more time and money than expected. So it’s important to know your threshold for renovations before you buy a fixer-upper. Your real estate agent will have referrals to general contractors and specialty tradesmen. It doesn’t hurt to schedule a showing with one of these pros in tow either. It’s better to know what you’re getting into before you find yourself in over your head.
With a bit of savvy, patience and the right agent, many of the pains that come with house hunting can be avoided. And if all goes according to plan, you’ll end up with a place you’ll be proud to call home.