07 Sep 2019

Houses for Sale Sarnia: 5 Common First-time Homebuyer Mistakes

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Houses for Sale Sarnia: 5 Common First-time Homebuyer Mistakes

It’s a big decision to buy your first home and you’ve probably been thinking about it for a long time. What will the house look like, how many bedrooms, what can I do with the kitchen and will I be a great host for entertaining? It’s easy to get caught in the dream world of Sarnia real estate when shopping for your first house. But before you start looking at the houses for sale in Sarnia, there are plenty of things you need to get in order.

First-time homebuyers make a lot of mistakes buying their first house. There is a lot to know and a lot of questions heading into the homebuying process. So, we won’t even bring up working with a Sarnia Realtor, because it should be an obvious one. Working with a strong Sarnia Realtor will help you avoid many of these mistakes, but they do still happen, and often. Here are some of the most common mistakes first-time homebuyers are making.

Looking at houses for sale before applying for a mortgage

Many first-time homebuyers get on MLS Sarnia and start clicking through listings. Then they start going to open houses, ‘just to look’. And before you know it, they are right in the market looking for a house. But how much can you spend? What is your budget? And more importantly, have you ever applied for a mortgage?

The first step for any would be buyer is to get approved for a mortgage and talk to someone about finances. It’s true what they say, a house will be the largest expense you ever have. And you don’t want to find yourself getting too deep without knowing what you can afford.

Reasons to apply for a mortgage: It will set your budget for what type of house you are looking at. If you are only able to afford houses for sale under $300,000, then looking at homes over $400,000 is a waste of your time. It’s also good to know if you even are able to be approved, as credit scores, job status and other financial issues could disqualify you from getting a mortgage to begin with.

Buying more house than you can afford

As we just mentioned, if you can’t afford a $400,000 house, then you shouldn’t be buying one. A mortgage broker would be able to give you a good idea of how much payments per month will be. However, that hasn’t stopped some first-time homebuyers from overextending themselves when buying. Some first-time buyers live in a dream world where they want the best of everything. But you sometimes have to start smaller and work your way up to your dream home. Overextending your budget could lead to you missing mortgage payments, and eventually losing your home.

Buy what YOU can afford, not what the mortgage tells you: Just because you qualify for a $350,000 mortgage, doesn’t mean you need to spend up to that limit. Factor in property taxes, utility bills, repairs and renovations and other bills, and you might be stretching yourself thin. Use the pre-approved amount as your ceiling. And back-track your budget. Ask yourself how much you want to spend each month on your mortgage and figure out what that qualifies you for.

Plan ahead and get your finances in order

First-time homebuyers make a lot of financial mistakes before even looking at any houses for sale. But one mistake comes after the closing. First-time homebuyers are always told to save for a downpayment. But when has anyone ever told a first-time homebuyer to save for a lawnmower, a garden hose, or when the furnace breaks down? First-time buyers get locked in on the prize of buying a home, but they don’t think of what will come after it. You will need supplies for upkeep on your home, tools, renovations, repairs and buying furniture. Don’t be the buyer that drains their savings on the downpayment or that only saves for the downpayment and doesn’t think behind.

20% down isn’t the be-all, end-all: If you put 20% down, you don’t have to pay any kind of mortgage insurance. However, while that does mean savings on the mortgage payment, it can leave you house broke. It’s not worth living on the edge with no savings in the bank just to achieve the 20% down. Plan ahead and make sure you budget and save for after-purchase expenses as well.

Being too nitpicky over the details

It’s actually time to start looking for homes now. Get on MLS Sarnia, talk to your Sarnia Realtor and start viewing. But try to not get caught up in the details of the homes you see. Every buyer has a checklist and we encourage you to have one as well. But don’t get too nitpicky with the cosmetic details of someone else’s home. Remember, it’s their home right now, not yours. First-time homebuyers have a hard time looking beyond the paint. They enter a room and don’t look at the room’s potential, but rather how the current owner has it set up.

See beyond the paint: When looking at houses for sale, you are bound to see some wacky colour choices. Some people paint little girl’s rooms bright pink, or like lots of colour on the walls, or even black. But all of that can be changed with a new coat of paint. Don’t look at the paint, look at the room’s dimensions. Is the room big enough to work with? Visualize how you would set up the room, rather than how someone else has. In your living room, think of where you would put the television. Don’t nitpick over the details someone else picked, when you’ll be the owner and can make changes yourself.

Get the emotions in control

Buying any Sarnia real estate for the first time is going to be an emotional rollercoaster. It could be the first time you have moved out on your own. Or the first home you have with someone to start a family. Whatever the case may be, it’s a good idea to keep your emotions in check when buying your first home. That’s because it can lead to emotional decision making, which includes overpaying or stretching your budget to far.

Get proper advice: Working with a Sarnia Realtor is a great way to have someone whose emotions are in check for you. We want you to find a home you love and we get invested in you as well. Many of our clients become lifelong friends. But, it’s still your own and not ours, so we won’t have the same emotional attachment you will. Working with a Sarnia Realtor will ensure someone is doing the research, comparables and contracts properly, and help to guide you through the home buying experience. It can be a very emotional experience, but it’s a happy one as well. So, work with someone who has your best interests at heart and can keep your emotions in check through the process.