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Top Pitfalls of Buying a Home in Austin, TX

Ryan Rodenbeck

Ryan started in Austin real estate as an investor in 2001. He looked at all investment opportunities — Austin foreclosures, condos, homes for sale...

Ryan started in Austin real estate as an investor in 2001. He looked at all investment opportunities — Austin foreclosures, condos, homes for sale...

Oct 9 7 minutes read

Avoid these pitfalls...

If you are a first time home buyer, there’s many pitfalls you can unknowingly fall into. This is a super exciting time in your life, but you must be careful. You are ecstatic to finally have a place where you make the rules, you can choose the paint color and you get to be in charge. This also come with great responsibility and choosing the right home is all about research, patience and trust in your real estate agent. Some first time home buyers hit the lottery when they first purchase, while others are left with an undesirable money pit. 

If you are finally in a position to buy your first home, then you need all the help you can get. Check out these top pitfalls to avoid on your first home buying transaction.

Being unprepared before the searching begins
Before you even step foot into an open house or call a realtor, you need to make sure you are preapproved for a loan and have the credit report lenders are looking for. You should start by checking your credit score.

It happens so often that people think they’re credit is pretty good, but upon further review it turns out not as strong. You’ll need time to dispute any discrepancies and build it up to a strong number. You definitely do not want any surprises and this is a surefire way to easily delay your ability to purchase your first home. 

You also need to go through the preapproval process first. You may think you know what your budget is, but it is your lender who will approve that or not. Gather your W-2s, pay stubs, bank statements and head over to your lender to get the process started. There’s no point in even browsing homes if you do not know your exact budget.

Beyond the budget for the home itself (mortgage, taxes and insurance), you should also be budgeting for the new bills that come with a home. The mortgage is just one piece of the puzzle. You will also need to consider what your utility or water bill will cost, heating and cooling, pool maintenance (if you have one), HOA fees and a home warranty. There’s plenty of extras that go into owning a home that add up quickly. Do not let these blind side you. The rule of thumb here is that no more than ⅓ of your income should be able to cover all of this. 

Remember, you no longer have a landlord to call when your A/C unit goes out or a door breaks. That is all on you now. 

Lacking professional help
It is never wise to start your first time home buying experience without help. You need a real estate agent, plain and simple. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes, it is overwhelming. Your real estate agent has access to information about home not made public. They are great at pulling comps, pointing out things about homes that may not be visible to the untrained eye and they understand contracts. If you are not experienced, you will find that contracts can be tricky to read and you will definitely have problems during the negotiation process.

Another big mistake is picking your real estate agent and lender blindly. You must do your research. Find referrals, find out if they have a good reputation and find out if they match your wants and needs. Remember, this process is all about you and if you feel awkward or uncomfortable with your real estate agent, chances are you have the wrong one. A good real estate agent will have time for all of your questions, they will be friendly and accomodating. Lastly, never apologize for asking questions, it is the job of your real estate agent to answer all of them.

Expecting to have your “wish-list” completely checked off
Unless you are the most recent lottery winner, chances are you have a huge wish list, and it will NOT be completely checked off at the close of escrow. You need to have an open mind in the process. You might even be surprised that what you thought you wanted is not what you ended up in love with at all.

Shoot to have very few deal-breakers and be honest about them. Are they truly deal-breakers? Make a list of serious must-haves, and then make a list of turn-offs. You definitely need to have some flexibility through the process. Maybe you swore you’d never have a 2-story home, but that one home just happens to check off every other box. Be realistic and be patient

Not keeping your emotions in check
Buying a home, especially your first, is an emotional roller coaster. Even the most even-keeled person can become a hot mess express during the home buying process. You must be prepared for any home to fall through at any moment. So many things change before and during a transaction, that nothing is set in stone until all papers are signed and the deed is recorded.

When the market is hot, a home can go under contract in hours. Competition can be fierce and a seller can literally choose whatever offer they feel like at the moment. If you are the lucky winner, the inspection may bring about a whole new slew of emotions. Maybe the roof is old or there’s a foundation problem that the seller is unwilling to fix. Is it worth it to keep going? Big decisions will be made and emotions will run high. 

Whatever you do to relieve stress, you will likely need to do a little more often during this time. Be patient with your family and with yourself.

Considering the resale value of your home

It is understandable that when you go to buy a home, you are not even thinking about selling the property. You may be looking for your forever home, but you should always be considering the resale value of the home. You never know how your life may change, so being aware of the home’s resale value is important.

This means paying attention to a very different style of home than what is in the area. Maybe the layout of the home is awkward or the kitchen design is outrageous. Even if it fits your style, you have to consider what other people may think.

Final Thoughts

Buying your first home is very exciting and exhausting. There’s a lot of steps to take before taking your first step as a homeowner. By sidestepping these pitfalls, you are sure to experience a smoother home buying transaction than most. 

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