Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Rookie Mistakes of First Time Home Buyers

There’s still time for first time home buyers to close on a home and take advantage of the $8,000 tax credit. There’s even talk on the hill of expanding and extending the tax credit. This is good news for all first-time home buyers (anyone who has not owned a home within the past 36 months).

Imagine having an $8,000 tax credit on your 2009 taxes. That’s a great incentive to buy a home. So if you’re thinking of rushing out to buy a home you might want to take a moment to learn from the mistakes others have made when purchasing your first house.

Not knowing how much home they can reasonably afford. This truly is the first step toward successful and happy home ownership. Before spending hours scouring free real estate magazines and Internet sites, and before you get in your vehicle and burn gasoline, find out how much home you can reasonably afford. It’s a simple process, really. Contact a mortgage provider who comes recommended to you and ask them to pre-qualify you for a home purchase.

Some lenders charge a small fee (usually less than $150) for this process, and usually will waive this fee when you secure your financing through their shop. You will be asked questions about employment and income and be required to provide your social security number and birth date. A credit report will be pulled and all of this information compiled to generate a figure called the “debt to income” ratio. Even though some lenders still allow these ratios as high as 41% and greater, it is advisable for first time home buyers to keep these ratios at a more comfortable 36% or lower.

Presuming foreclosures offer the best deals. We’ve all heard stories of the couple who found foreclosed property that had four bedrooms, two living areas and a three car garage and their house payment is under $750 a month. So we assume those kind of deals are available for anyone who will spend a bit of time home shopping. Truth is while a foreclosure may provide you with a good deal, it’s best to get the expert advice from an experienced real estate agent before taking the jump into a proverbial money pit.

Not showing a poker face. When negotiating a poker face is a must. Even though, in most cases you won’t be negotiating face to face with the seller, your offer and response to their counter offer can prove just as effective (or ineffective) as a poker player’s ability to keep a straight face. The best advice is to keep emotions away from the negotiating table.

Choosing the wrong buyers agent. Even though he is licensed to buy and sell real estate, your football buddy may not necessarily be the best professional to negotiate your home purchase. When it comes to negotiating a price on a home, the real estate professional you choose needs to be skillful in negotiating not only the price, but also other concessions you want. Choose the wrong professional, and you could end up paying too much for the house you want.

Miscalculating the true costs of home ownership. Many first time home buyers forget that once they own the home, they are responsible for all the upkeep and maintenance. Whether it’s a leaky faucet or a cracked foundation, the cost of home ownership exceeds the monthly payment. It’s a good idea to set aside at least 1% of the home’s purchase price each year for potential repairs and upkeep.

Passing up the home inspection. The costs associated with purchasing a home add up quickly. It seems that everyone has a hand extended looking to be paid. So naturally the hundred or so dollars required for a thorough home inspection can be easily dismissed. After all, both you and your agent have looked the property over. You’ve even taken several of your friends over to see the house, and they’ve bought their own homes. Surely if anything were wrong, it would be evident by now. Don’t be so sure. The few hundred dollars it costs to get a good home inspection can save you thousands in future repairs and may even keep you from buying the wrong house.