Buying a house is an exciting and significant step in life. However, like any major decision, it’s not without its challenges and potential pitfalls. In hindsight, many homebuyers find themselves wishing they had known more before embarking on this journey or making that first offer, and ultimately entering escrow and closing on their new home. While each buyer is different, there are a few common insights that experienced homeowners have shared about what they wish they knew before buying a house. These insights can help you make more informed decisions as you navigate the complex world of real estate and consider if you’re ready to explore the idea of buying a house.
What Buyers Wish They Knew Before Buying a House
Consider Wants vs. Needs When Choosing a Home
When searching for the perfect home, it’s essential to differentiate between your wants and needs. While we all have a wish list of dream features, you may need to prioritize what’s most important for your family and your budget. Your needs, such as the number of bedrooms, a home office, or a safe neighborhood, should take precedence over things like a fireplace, screened in porch, or open floorplan, as many of these things could potentially be fixed or added later on.
It’s also vital to think beyond your own desires. Resale value is a key consideration, as you might sell the house in the future. Features like a well-regarded school district can significantly impact the resale value, even if you don’t have children. In fact, statistics show that 4% of homeowners regret not buying a home in a better school district – a common mistake that’s all too easy to make, but even easier to avoid.
While you ponder your needs, also think about elements that can be changed easily, such as interior design. Keep in mind that 34% of homeowners wish they had bought a larger home. It’s much easier to renovate or add a room than to change the location or structural layout of a house. Therefore, prioritizing your needs over wants can save you from future regrets.
Buy a Home You Can Afford
Purchasing a home is more than just switching from renting to a mortgage. It’s a significant financial commitment that requires careful planning and budgeting. To ensure that you buy a home within your financial means, start by getting pre-approved for a mortgage. Understand that the pre-approval amount may exceed what you can comfortably afford (most homeowners say their pre-approval numbers were far more than they were comfortable spending). Therefore, create a budget that considers not just the mortgage payment but also the associated costs of homeownership such as utilities or repairs, as well as other living expenses such as groceries, car payments, credit card debt, etc.
Your monthly payment will include the principal and interest on your loan, property taxes, and possibly mortgage insurance if your down payment is less than 20% of the purchase price. These additional expenses should be considered when establishing your budget. Homeownership is also about maintenance and repairs, with homeowners typically spending 1-4% of a home’s value on these tasks annually. It’s essential to prepare for buying a house by setting realistic financial expectations and understanding the full scope of ongoing expenses. This will help you avoid the stress of barely affording your monthly payments and unexpected repair costs or, ultimately, risking the possibility of foreclosure.
Prepare for ALL Aspects of Home Ownership
Unfortunately when buying a house it isn’t just the down payment and paperwork that make you a successful homeowner. One aspect of homeownership that often catches first-time buyers off guard is the need for maintenance and repairs. Unlike renting, where you can call your landlord for any issues, as a homeowner, you are responsible for fixing what breaks. The expenses for these unexpected repairs can be significant, with most homeowners spending a portion of their annual income on maintenance and upkeep.
When you visit potential homes, pay close attention to the details, both inside and out. Look for signs of disrepair, like water spots on the ceiling, cracks in the walls, or damaged wood. These issues may not be immediately evident but can translate into considerable expenses down the road. This is especially important in coastal town such as Sunset Beach as the salty ocean air can cause corrosion. Home inspections are standard in real estate transactions, but they don’t always reveal every potential issue.
One way to mitigate the financial burden of unexpected repairs is to consider a home warranty. When buying a house a home warranty can cover the repair or replacement of systems and appliances in your home, reducing your out-of-pocket expenses. Many real estate transactions include a home warranty as a way to provide peace of mind to new buyers.
The journey to buying a house is an exciting one, but it’s not without its challenges. The most important thing to remember is that you can never ask too many questions when it comes to purchasing a home. Your real estate agent is there to help you, whether it be questions about the neighborhood, school district, roof age, HOA dues, etc. ask away, because ultimately, one of your questions could end up with an answer that is either a deal breaker, or, ends up acting as the cherry on top, sending you on your way to buying a home. Understanding the full scope of responsibilities and expenses associated with owning a home will help you make informed decisions and avoid potential regrets down the road.
In the end, by taking these considerations into account, you can better navigate the homebuying process and ensure that your new home is a place of joy and comfort for you and your family to enjoy for many years to come. Are you thinking of buying a house? Contact our office today!