Most Common Homebuyer Mistakes
As the resilient Chicagoland residential real estate market has sped back into action this summer, many homebuyers are finding that they’re not the only ones pursuing that dream home. Making a competitive offer is as important as ever, but that’s just one of a handful of common mistakes that befall even savvy homebuyers. Here are some common mistakes homebuyers make and ways to avoid them.
Ever wonder if you could save money when buying a home by going right to the listing agent yourself, eliminating the buyer’s broker commission? It’s possible, but not very likely as the seller’s commission agreement with their brokerage is not impacted when a buyer doesn’t have representation. Moreso, it’s simply not in your best interest. An agent is not only there to protect and represent you through all phases of the transaction, they should have a significantly better handle on the negotiating leverage you may or may not have -- which is much more likely to save you more money than foregoing that representation. Even worse, without a broker, you could miss out on a home by misplaying your hand.
Positioning yourself as the strongest buyer
Self-reported mortgage prequalifications are easier than ever to obtain from online mortgage providers. However, self-reporting can raise doubt about whether you may have forgotten some expenses, such as student loans. Sitting down with a lender to fully analyze expenses for a formal preapproval instantly makes your offer more competitive.
Money talks, but it isn’t everything. What are some other ways you can differentiate your offer? One strategy is to find out what’s important to the seller and work those terms into your offer. You can also be more flexible on the closing date, or decide to take the home “as is,” which means taking on most home repairs yourself rather than having the seller deal with them.
Doing your due diligence
This should seem obvious, but make sure to do in depth research on the area you’re looking at. It’s worthwhile to give the local school a call and see if you can come in for a visit. Think of the services and amenities you’d want within 15 minutes of home and check that places are available. Take a stroll through the neighborhood at different times of the day or night to get a sense of the vibe, and make your daily commute to understand the traffic and time commitment.
And if applicable, make sure to obtain and review association by-laws and documents about managing routine, scheduled maintenance of facilities and grounds, rules regarding pets, etc. to see if anything conflicts with your lifestyle. You’ll also want to review the association’s financial information including assessment history to get a feel for how fiscally sound they are.
Finally, make sure you’re confident in your choice of inspector. No two home inspectors are exactly the same, so you’ll want to make sure you trust yours, even if they were referred to you by your agent. Luckily, the prevalence of online reviews means you should be able to take your pick of the highest recommended.