Five Mistakes Home Buyers Should Avoid

Peace of Mind Home Inspections

You have found your dream home! It is perfect: great condition, ideal neighborhood, decent price. Everything looks wonderful! 

Don’t celebrate just yet, though. Nothing is certain until the close of the sale. Prospective home buyers sabotage themselves unintentionally at every stage of the process. Here are five mistakes that can derail the purchase of your dream home. 

Mistake 1. Skipping Appointments with the Seller or Seller’s Agent 

Selina and Bruce loved the listing so much that they contacted the seller immediately. They set up a viewing for the following weekend. Unfortunately, various obligations popped up and the showing was forgotten. They rescheduled for later that week, but a minor emergency prevented them from making the appointment. Once they realized what had happened, the couple contacted the seller’s agent, only to discover that the homeowner had already accepted an offer from another buyer. 

Most sellers understand that life happens. Work, family, weather–things can suddenly go wrong and derail your plans. Most reasonable sellers will forgive you for missing one appointment due to an unforeseen circumstance (as long as you inform the seller as soon as possible, preferably ahead of time). However, habitual no-shows quickly find themselves frozen out by the homeowners and their agents. 

Mistake 2. Alienating the Seller 

Talia had always been told that her refined tastes and outspoken personality would get her in trouble one day. Who knew it would happen when she was shopping for a new condo? When the owners showed her the master bedroom, she simply voiced her opinion on their chosen color scheme (black, white, and chartreuse). If you ask her, they were just too sensitive. After all, she was trying to be charitable when she said that the room reminded her of “a Dalmatian with sea-sickness.” She can’t understand why they refuse to return her calls

To paraphrase that timeless advice: If you don’t have anything nice to say, wait until you’re in the car. Your own car, far away from anyone who could report your words to the homeowners. People have the right to decorate their homes as they see fit. While most real estate experts advise sellers to repaint their homes using neutral palettes, this is not required. When you criticize someone’s home, be aware that you are, in a way, criticizing that person. Even if the homeowner is selling the property, he might actually be really proud of the feature that you consider to be a DIY monstrosity. 

Mistake 3. Disregarding the House Rules During a Showing

Richard and Kori had been shopping for a new place for months, so they were thrilled when they discovered the perfect home at a random open house. They quickly scheduled a private showing to get a more thorough feel for the property. Everything was going well until Richard insisted on seeing the basement–even though the homeowners had told the realtor, in no uncertain terms, that no one was allowed down there– and accidentally released the family’s very skittish cat. He, Kori, and the realtor were able to wrangle the unhappy feline back into the cellar, but not before it knocked over several picture frames and ripped up the kitchen curtains in its attempt to evade capture.

Before you enter the home, ask if the homeowners have any rules. Some sellers request that potential buyers do not wear shoes in the home, for example, while others ask that certain doors be kept closed at all times. It does not matter if the instructions are weird or reasonable–the homeowners felt that they were necessary. Some might say that the homeowners in the above scenario are to blame because they should have boarded their cat, but that is missing the point on two levels: first, showings can happen with very little notice so they might not have had time to arrange for pet care; and second, the cat would have been fine if the door to the basement had never been opened. 

Mistake 4. Nitpicking Every Possible Defect

Damian wanted to get the best possible deal for his money. He carefully examined the appraisal report, inspection report, and disclosure report. He researched the market and the neighborhood. When he made his initial offer, he delivered a lengthy list of problems with the house. These ranged from issues that could be considered serious (if not dealbreakers) to minor issues like squeaky linoleum and cracks in the front walk. He was surprised when the homeowners turned down his bid. 

This error is closely related to the second mistake in that both cases involve things that annoy, insult, or aggravate the seller. If you present a list of grievances against a seller’s property, don’t be surprised if she decides that you are just not the right buyer for her home. You are basically telling a seller that they can expect long negotiations and expensive repairs before you’ll be willing to close the deal. 

Mistake 5. Waiting Too Long to Make an Offer

The charming mid-century bungalow was everything Tim and Stephanie wanted in their first home. They arrived early for every appointment, had a great rapport with the seller, and were pre-approved for a mortgage. Tim, though, wanted to be absolutely sure that this was the home, so he insisted on looking at a few other houses just to be sure. After a few weeks of looking, he finally agreed with Stephanie that the bungalow was perfect, and the happy couple made their offer. Unfortunately, the house had been sold in the interim. 

In certain markets, houses sit unsold for months; in others, days. Even in slow markets, however, houses can go quickly. You have to take the opportunities you are given. If you really love a property, why not make an offer? Unless you have a solid, rational reason for not going for it, then go for it! 

A lot can go wrong during the process of buying a home. Thankfully, you have control over your own actions and attitudes. All of these really boil down to this: respect the seller.  

What is the worst mistake you made when house hunting? Share your thoughts and experiences below!

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