Mistakes First-Time Homebuyers Make, According To A Real Estate Expert - Exclusive

With the number of housing units in construction skyrocketing across the country to meet demands, it's safe to say that there will be plenty of new first-time homebuyers in 2022 and beyond. However, while purchasing your first property can be an exhilarating and rewarding experience for many, there are few things quite as bad as feeling buyer's remorse after signing a 30-year mortgage. As such, if you're a first-time homebuyer, you owe it to yourself to learn from the mistakes of those who came before you so that your experience will go as smoothly as possible.

From failing to plan ahead to harboring unrealistic expectations about the purchasing process, new homebuyers need to watch out for a lot. "There are plenty of mistakes first-time buyers make, and many vary depending on their own situation," advised experienced real estate broker Josh Steppling, of the Josh Steppling Real Estate Group, exclusively to House Digest.

Not planning ahead

Buying your first property takes a lot more effort than simply opening up Zillow in your web browser and clicking on your dream house. In fact, many prospective homeowners lack a clear understanding of their financial situation or the practical considerations that go into home ownership. This can lead to them overestimating what type of residence or neighborhood they can afford, which will complicate things when it's time to choose their real estate agent.

"First-time homebuyers should be planning their situation at least a year ahead of time. This means checking your credit report, talking to a lender about what is needed on your end, and even checking out neighborhoods that interest you," Josh Steppling explained. "When the time comes to buy your first home, you will save yourself a ton of stress and money knowing that your finances are in line and you have a good idea of what kind of home you're looking for."

Not shopping around for quotes

When shopping for a used car, those who pay sticker price for their vehicle at the first seller they come across are likely to pay much more than someone who shops around for a fair deal in advance. Naturally, buying a home can be a similar experience, only with wider margins and loftier price tags. As such, you may be surprised to learn how little shopping around for affordable quotes new homebuyers are apt to do. "From mortgage lenders to insurance premiums to inspectors, most first-time homebuyers go with the first quote that they get," Josh Steppling shared. "As a first-time buyer, take your time to make sure you're comfortable that the professional you're going with is giving you a reasonable quote for what you are getting."

Luckily for those who are imagining a grueling, time-consuming process, shopping around for quotes is fairly quick and straightforward. Of course, few prospective homeowners will choose to do business with companies that waste their time, so most make an effort to provide a reasonable quote as soon as possible. "Don't get caught paying more and getting less than what you could have gotten if you'd just taken 15 minutes to get additional opinions," Steppling continued.

Stretching their budget

When shopping for place to live, it's not uncommon for first-time homebuyers to forget that their dream house is called that for a reason. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford a beautiful home in an amazing neighborhood that checks off all the boxes on their wish list. This is especially true, however, for those with limited capital. "First-time homebuyers today are more leveraged than they historically have been," Josh Steppling revealed. "[They] often use their heart rather than their head, pushing their budget past where they are financially comfortable to get larger, newer, or more updated homes."

There are also a lot of expenses that go into buying a property that new homeowners rarely think about when planning their budget. This can lead to major mistakes and a lot of avoidable stress when it's time to pay up. "Get pre-approved ahead of time and stick well within that budget," Steppling continued. "On top of that, expect to have a cushion in your savings for closing costs, thorough inspections, and unexpected repairs after closing on top of the down payment."

Not using a realtor

Although it's generally wise for first-time homeowners to cut costs wherever they can in order to afford the best house possible, there's one cost-cutting measure you should always avoid. "It can be tempting for any buyer to forgo using a real estate agent whether they're buying or selling," Josh Steppling explained. "Sellers feel that they can accomplish the sale themselves, and typically offer to pass some of those savings onto potential buyers if they, themselves, don't use a realtor." But the risk almost always isn't worth it in the end.

Foregoing the professionals can complicate your homebuying experience in ways beyond the financial, too. "This is a mistake for any homebuyer, as there are myriad steps and parties involved in every real estate transaction," Josh Steppling added. "It's especially a problem for first-time homebuyers who aren't as familiar with the process and typically need more representation along the way."

Having unrealistic expectations

It's amazing how quickly hidden expenses can start popping up after you've purchased your first property. So if you're expecting to save a lot of money compared to your life as a renter, you might find out that you're sorely mistaken at the end of the month. "Many first-time homebuyers don't set [themselves] up for proper expectations when it comes to owning a home," Josh Steppling revealed. "The first expectations you should set for yourself are the costs of home ownership, meaning everything outside your mortgage."

From property taxes to the cost of renovating your home's deck, the number of new expenses on your plate will vary based on the type and condition of the residence you buy. Nevertheless, there are always some costs you should keep in mind. "Budget for utilities, repairing any issues found during your home inspection, lawn care, pool cleaning, pest control, or any other things you can see yourself needing," Steppling concluded.