So you're finally ready to consider purchasing your FIRST home! Congratulations! Becoming a homeowner is one of the most exciting events you'll experience in life, but it also comes with alot of responsibility that starts WAY before you're handed the keys to your new home! Many first time homebuyers are so excited about the prospect of becoming homeowners, they make critical mistakes early on in the homebuying process that can actually hurt their chances of even getting into their first home. Don't let that be YOU. Below are some common mistakes first time homebuyers make, and ways to AVOID them!
Common First Time Homebuyer Mistakes
1. Not Getting Pre-Approved for a Home Mortgage Loan FIRST
Unless you're fortunate enough to be able to pay cash for your new home, most buyers will end up having to finance part or all of the purchase price. Many first time homebuyers start looking at new homes FIRST, and then decide to go to a lender, only to find out they don't qualify for their "dream home", or worse yet, don't qualify AT ALL. In the current housing market, lenders are very strict about credit requirements, and it is estimated that 75-80% of all first time homebuyers WON'T be able to qualify for a home mortgage loan, even with all the supposedly "first time homebuyer" programs available. With so many factors riding on a home mortgage loan preapproval, it only makes sense to make the bank (or lender of your choice) the FIRST stop on your new home buying journey - even BEFORE you start looking at homes. Even if you're not planning to buy right away, it still helps to know where you currently stand credit wise, so you'll be prepared down the road when the time comes to buy. Along with this common mistake, comes #2....
2. Thinking your Homebuilder Does "On-the-Lot" Financing
With all the new changes in credit and lending laws (see Dodd-Frank), most manufactured and modular home dealers now are unable to even DISCUSS credit lending with you, much less offer "on-the-lot" financing. And although most dealers can provide you with information about different financing programs, as well as a list of reliable lenders in your area, it is still YOUR responsibility to seek out your own home financing, and work closely alongside a reputable lender to obtain a home mortgage loan. Your dealer or builder can only advise you so far into the financing process, but ultimately you will be at the mercy of a licensed lender to get the financing you need to purchase a home. (Note: there are still some dealers who offer"in-house" financing because of the unique relationship they have with the lender. However, you are NOT required to use their lender, and are even advised to compare programs and rates with other available lenders in order to get the best financing for you!)
3. Falling for the "Fluff"
Today's manufactured and modular homes are built even better and more beautiful than some of their "stick built" counterparts. Manufacturers have come a long way in offering more of the same unique features and styles found in many upscale traditionally built homes, such as upgraded cabinets, flooring and custom options. It's easy to get lost in the "wow factor" when visiting dealer display models, or viewing theses homes on a website. Just keep in mind that most have been "dressed up" to sell the "fluff", which may be more than you really need, OR can afford! (Do you REALLY need that expensive granite countertop or lavish in-laid stone fireplace?) An easy way to avoid getting caught up in all the glitter and gold is the make a list BEFOREHAND of the amenities and options you really want AND can afford, and only consider an upgrade if its going to either save you money or enhance sell-ability in the event you decide to sell your home later on.
4. Only Shopping for the Lowest Price
If you've been preapproved ahead of time (see #1), then you already know how much home you can afford. Even if you're paying cash, you probably still have a budget to keep in mind.
However, when shopping for your first home, don't fall for the "lowest price" advertising gimmick alot of dealers offer. Most times, it is a "hook" to get you in the door, and doesn't represent the true "value" of the home they're advertising. Keep in mind there is a BIG difference between shopping for PRICE, and shopping for VALUE. Make sure you sit down with a knowledgeable sales representative to get the ACTUAL cost of the home, including set up and delivery, options offered and any additional expenses such as well, septic tank and lot preparation costs. Many times a "low price" is just a "home-only" cost - NOT a true turn key package. Also shop for dealers who have outstanding reputations in their industry, are willing to spend time with you and answer all your questions, and who come highly recommended by former customers. Ask for references and check their BBB status for reliability and service issues. Getting a good deal on your first home is important - but not if it comes with unexpected costs and service issues down the road! Shop for Value, NOT just Price!
5. Not Inspecting the Land/Property You Wish to Build On
Even if you own the land on which to put your new home, you still need to be aware of certain county land/health codes and restrictions that apply to the type housing you want to build there. Some people just assume because its a vacant piece of land, that it is suitable for building on. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. If you are buying from a knowledgeable and experienced home builder, they will most likely do the initial land evaluation for you, including obtaining the necessary permits to set up your new home. But there are certain steps that a smart first time home buyer will take to ensure there are no problems associated with the land they wish to build on. The first step is to meet with your county health and building inspection departments to make sure your land is suitable for the type housing you want to build, including set back requirements, well/water system and septic requirements (usually handled through the health department), and any other county requirements that are pertinent to the location. It is also advisable to meet with a land surveyor to make sure you know the property boundaries, and are aware of any potential issues such as encroachment issues, blue line streams, or soil and drainage problems associated with the land. Most counties have very strict requirements when it comes to building anything, so it will save you time and headaches to know these requirements BEFORE you start to build!
Being a well-informed first time home buyer can help you avoid these and other common mistakes often made by first time home buyers, and make your first time home buyer experience a happy and successful one! Fortunately, our Home Connections staff has the knowledge, experience and friendly attitude to help guide you through the ENTIRE first time home buying process and ensure you are 100% satisfied with YOUR first time home purchase! After all, you only get to buy a first home ONCE - let us help you make it the happiest experience of your life! Contact one of our seasoned sales professionals today to get started!