The Common Buyer Mistakes That Could Keep You From Your 'Dream' Home

Buying a home is one of the biggest decisions you can make in life.

For better or for worse, purchasing a house will affect your lifestyle and your finances for years and years – so it’s important that you go into this important, engaging, occasionally trying process with a clear head and the right attitude.

Often though, getting it “right” is more easily said than done. So instead, let’s talk about the ways that you can avoid getting it “wrong,” by running down a list of common buyer mistakes – the attitudes, misconceptions, and missteps that have prevented many would-be buyers from snagging the best possible property.

Here are four common mistakes to look out for as you begin the homebuying process – and some expert advice on what you can do to avoid them.

1.) Not Focusing on One Location

In our experience, the number one mistake buyers make is not figuring out where they want to live before figuring out what they want to live in.

Allow us to explain. Chicagoland is a sprawling area, full of many different neighborhoods and sub-neighborhoods, each with their own unique character – and distinct housing markets.

When buyers start looking seriously at homes in many different geographies all at once, they tend to waste their time, looking in places where they don't actually want to live in the long-term. As a result, buyers sometimes miss out on the perfect home in the neighborhood that actually will be the perfect fit.

The bottom line? There's only so much time in the day and in our competitive marketplace, the best properties go fast. You will be far more likely to find the right property and get in a position to make the best offer possible if you narrow down your geographic focus early in the process.

2.) Not Doing Their Homework

Buying a home is a highly hands-on and active process, which sometimes comes as a surprise to first-time buyers raised on a steady diet of day dreams and HGTV. In our experience, it is a huge mistake for buyers to assume they won't have do their own homework or leg work when they take on a house hunt.

For instance, consider what we discussed in the section above – focusing in one geographic area or neighborhood. A little light Googling won’t be enough to cut it here! Instead, homebuyers should be going to open houses, having brunch or lunch in a new neighborhood where they think they want to live, and checking out the neighborhood at 5, 5:30, or 6 p.m. - when their future neighbors are coming home from work.

Too often buyers rely on their real estate agent to tell them about a neighborhood, but inevitably they have different interests and tastes than their agent. While your broker will be a vital partner in your home search, you will need to get your hands dirty and do a little research for yourself; at the end of the day, it will be your home, after all.

The same hands-on mentality goes for just about every aspect of the buying process. It helps to be proactive, whether scouting neighborhoods, getting your finances in order, or getting pre-approved for a mortgage.

3.) Not Thinking Long-Term

Tell a buyer to picture their “dream house,” and they’ll probably be able to rattle off a long description without breaking a sweat. But ask them to describe why they want those features, or what they picture their living in this house to be like, and you may get a more thoughtful reaction.

In our experience, many buyers have an idea in their head about what their future home looks like, but have not actually pictured themselves living in it.

For instance, homebuyers may want an open floor plan because that's what they’re seeing in all the major real estate shows and magazines. However, when push comes to shove, many homeowners will decide that they actually prefer smaller private spaces because they, say, like their personal quiet time, or have a bigger family.

That’s just one example; we could go on. The biggest thing to take away is that it’s important to remember that buying a home isn’t a task to just be checked off of your list; it’s a huge decision that will affect the lives of you and your family for years to come.

You won’t just be buying a home; you’ll be owning a home, and living in it. Don’t forget to think about the long-term picture, as well as the here and now. A great way to get started is to build out a comprehensive list of your big picture wants and needs; we have a guide to starting your personal home wish-list available here.

4.) Letting Emotions Get the Better of Them

There can be no denying that buying and selling real estate can be a very emotional process, for any number of reasons. You may be selling a beloved old home to move to a new one, or transitioning from renting to owning for the first time. You may be optimistic and positive about the future, or stressed about the high costs and stressful hurdles that are pressing on you in the present.

We get it! And it’s important to remember, too, that it’s not just you who may be feeling emotional or overwhelmed, but also the other party in your transaction – the seller.

Often enough, the “other side” (so to speak) will make choices or hold standards that seem irrational as it relates to the last $300 of negotiation, or maybe a minor inspection item. Think about the impact of just a few dollars in a 30 year mortgage. Picture yourself living in the home three to five years down the road. Will any of this be important? Will it have been worth severing a potential deal on a great house here and now because of a small disagreement or miscommunication?

In a lot of ways, this is why having the right real estate professional on your side can make all the difference! The right agent will be there to help you navigate through your emotional ups and downs, while also providing the perspective, clarity, and objectivity needed to help you conduct negotiations, make an offer, and sift through your many options to arrive at the best possible outcome.

Ready to work with a real estate team that will always be there for you? Ready to navigate the many ups and downs of the homebuying process with confidence? Ready to put your best foot forward at every step of your buyer’s journey? The Real Group team is here for you! Drop us a line today to get the conversation started!

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