Buying your first home is an exciting and emotional time. You’re finally going to have a place of your own that you can do anything you want to it. Your head will fill with dreams and visions of how you want your space to look and feel. You’ll imagine the gatherings of friends and family, raising children, years of holidays, and creating a cozy feeling in the home.
But getting emotional and attached to a property can possibly spell trouble. It can get you into a bidding war that causes you pay more than you were comfortable with and planned to spend. It can also cause you to settle for a property because of one feature you love while the rest doesn’t work for you. Of course, your realtor will do his or her best to keep you on track of your checklist but sometimes there is no deterring an emotionally attached first-time homebuyer.
Zillow recently did a poll of 1,000 first-time home buyers and asked them what was their biggest regret about their purchase. Their answers are good to keep in mind as you are shopping for your first home and perhaps you can learn from their regrets.
- In the survey, 62% of first-time homebuyers said they wished they had bought a bigger house or one with a different layout. Quite often it is less about the size, although it is easy to outgrow a small house quickly, and more about how the space is laid out. It’s unlikely that as a first-time homebuyer you will be able to afford a home comparable to your parents’ house so look for a home that has an open concept which will give you flexibility in your furniture arrangement.
- Watch your finances and estimate costs before you buy. Zillow said that 40% of first-time home buyers reported that they either went above budget or should have put more money down, leaving them caught with higher mortgage payments than they had planned. Buyers also reported being surprised by closing costs and the cost of home maintenance. Do your homework and work with your realtor to figure out real costs before you jump in.
- More than 25% of those surveyed ended up hating their neighbourhood. This is a home you plan to live in for many years and, most likely, so do the people around you. The neighbourhood may quiet Wednesday afternoon when most people are at work but does it turn into a crowded party block on Friday night? These are things you’d only know by driving through the neighbourhood at various times of day. If you aren’t going to get along with your neighbours, you are going to be miserable in your new home.
- Be realistic about your yard and parking needs. Almost a quarter of first-time homebuyers ended up dissatisfied with their yard and the results were split 50-50 between wishing for a bigger yard and wishing for a yard with less maintenance. Are you really going to do all that mowing and raking? Do you need more space to let your dog run or will you be walking him every day? Also, almost 17% wish they had better parking. Here in Edmonton, Alberta, where winter starts early and lasts long, would you be willing to give up your desired attached garage for a detached garage or covered parking? Think about carrying groceries from your car in temperatures of −10 °C. Are you still okay with it? Be sure before you make an offer that everything is right for you.
Keep your wits about you and try not to get too emotionally attached to the homes you see. In fact, a great recommendation is to create a checklist to keep you grounded in reality. Work with your realtor to compile a realistic list of things you want and need in your new home, set a budget that you are comfortable with and not necessarily the maximum you are approved to finance, then carry that list with you to remind yourself of what was important to you when your head was clearer. These tips should help you to avoid some common first-time home buyer regrets.