You've decided it's time to buy a house - what an exciting time! Be sure to set yourself up for success! It’s a seller’s market so it’s more important than ever to stay ahead of other buyers if you want to secure your dream house. Take it from us, errors can cost you, so we’re listing the top 10 mistakes to avoid when house hunting to help you out!
Not Making a Strong Enough Offer
In today’s market you need to think of it this way: “The list price is the starting price”. If you’re losing bids on house after house, you’re not making strong enough offers. There’s nothing that currently indicates that home prices are going to go down or that inventory is increasing, in fact, it’s the opposite for the foreseeable future. So if you want that house now, be prepared to make a good offer, and the right agent will help you do it.
Looking Without Preapproval
Nothing worse than falling in love with a house and learning you can’t afford it. With a simple mortgage preapproval early in your house hunting journey, you can get a realistic understanding of your budget and search accordingly. The Gill Group agents can help you in this process, providing recommended mortgage brokers to complete the preapproval and then show you homes that fit your budget. In addition, if you don’t have preapproval and aren’t paying cash, it’s just about impossible to have an offer accepted, so don’t waste your time.
Making Unreasonable Inspection Demands
Most offers being accepted in today’s market are with limited inspection contingencies, and as a buyer, you are expected to honor that. Barring any major structural issues or oil tank, you really shouldn’t be demanding much from an inspection. In most cases, you’re not buying a new house, so expect that not all will be perfect and that it’s not the seller’s responsibility to make it so.
Bait-and-Switch Claw Backs
Think you’ll win a bid with a high offer with the intent to gain a credit back during inspection? Good luck because this strategy just doesn’t work. Sellers most likely have back up offers, so if you’re being unreasonable, they can knock you out of the transaction and go to someone else. Make an offer you can afford and are comfortable with, regardless of what may come out during inspection.
Waiting for the Open House
In the world of real estate, new listings for the week come on the market usually by Wednesday and showings begin. The Open House comes on Sunday and best-and-final is usually called for Monday. Now think about it – is one night enough to mull over one of the biggest financial decisions of your life? Do yourself a favor and make sure to see the house well before the Open House. Not only will it give you time to decide if it’s right for you, but you’ll have uninterrupted time at a showing, versus an Open House when multiple parties are being ushered through.
Jumping From Agent to Agent
Building a relationship with a buyer’s agent is key to finding the house that’s right for you. But if you’re not exclusive to one agent, your house hunt will suffer. A) An agent isn’t going to work as hard for you and make you a priority if they know you’re jumping and B) Agents talk to each other and if you have the reputation of jumping, you’re not the one who’s going to get the call when the perfect exclusive becomes available.
Calling the List Agent Directly
You may be tempted to call the list agent for a house directly thinking you can strike yourself a deal. Think again. The list agent represents the seller and has a fiduciary responsibility to get the best deal for the seller – not you, the buyer. If you see a listing you’re interested in, engage your buyer’s agent to leverage their training, expertise and relationships to negotiate for you, better than you can on your own.
Unwillingness to Compromise
Every buyer has a wish-list or their “must-haves”, it helps narrow down the home search, of course. But are you being reasonable in your criteria? Moreover, are you willing to forgo one must-have for another? We encourage every buyer to give every home within their budget a look and expand your willingness to compromise. Finding that needle in the haystack that ticks every box on your list is an almost impossible task, so be ready to give a little if you are serious about buying a house.
Pointing Out Flaws During Showings
The Gill Group agents see it all the time. A buyer walks through the house pointing out all the little flaws, thinking they’re setting themselves up to have a low offer accepted. Or another buyer asks all sorts of random, nit-picky questions that have no impact on the offer or sale of the house. If you seem like you’re playing games or being difficult during the showing, the list agent is taking note. And if your offer is 1:1 with another, guess who’ll they’ll favor – the answer is likely not you.
Looking for Houses on Zillow
If you think Zillow is the end-all-be-all when you’re house-hunting, sorry, but you’re wrong. Though Zillow does scrape realtor sites, it does not have access to Multiple Listing Services (MLS) listings which only real estate agents have access to. Status of listings are most accurate in MLS, so you may see a house available on Zillow but it’s already under contract and off the market. In addition, a lot of homes we sell are not ever on Zillow, so you may be missing out if you’re not engaging a buyer’s agent. And don’t get us started on ‘Zestimates’ – ask someone who lives and works in your market for an accurate assessment.
BONUS: NOT CALLING THE GILL GROUP!
The simplest advice we can give is to engage a buyer's agent as early in your search as you can. It doesn't cost you a thing and puts you in the best position to find and secure your new home! The buyer's agents at The Gill Group are just a call away at 201-888-2900 to answer all your questions.