You’ve clicked through hundreds of online listings, compared floor plans and square footage, and are eager to jump-start your search. But before you even think of setting foot in an open house, make sure you get a copy of your credit report. The cleaner your credit report and the higher your credit score, the more likely you are to be pre-approved for a mortgage at a low interest rate.
Review your credit report a few months before you begin your house hunt, and you’ll have time to ensure the facts are correct and dispute mistakes before a mortgage lender checks your credit. You can access a free copy of your credit report at annualcreditreport.com once every 12 months.
Not getting pre-approved
After you’ve assessed your credit report, it’s time to establish with a qualified lender how much you can afford. First-time home buyers need to take the time to get an approval from their lender before looking at homes. This includes getting a credit check and giving their lender a copy of W-2s, pay stubs, and bank and brokerage statements. Getting pre-approved can help you save time by looking for homes that you know you can afford instead of lusting after something out of your price range. And it will put you in a better position over another bidder with no pre-approval.
Not creating a long-term budget
If the housing crisis proved anything, it’s that mortgages were given to people who clearly did not have the means to pay them back. To avoid making this mistake, home buyers should create a budget before even beginning their home search to determine just how much house they can really afford. A good rule of thumb is to devote no more than a third of your monthly household income to housing costs, which include mortgage principal, interest, taxes, and insurance. There are several work sheets available online to help you figure out how your income, debts, and expenses affect what you can afford each month for the next 15 or 30 years.
Forgetting about the hidden costs
You grossly underestimated what you can afford to pay each month. You factored in the purchase price of the home but didn’t consider the cost of taxes, insurance, utilities, and fees. There are several hidden costs that first-time home buyers neglect to prepare for. They can be anything from the closing costs to appraisal fees, escrow fees, homeowner’s insurance fees, property taxes, and even moving costs. Another factor is the cost of repairs and maintenance. When you own a house, you have to fix everything yourself. You may find there are numerous “nickel and dime” things to account for that could add up to a significant chunk of money over time.
Not using professional help
Sure, it’s possible to go out and buy a home without the aid of a professional real estate agent. But think about how much time and stress a good agent can save you. For starters, Realtors have access to all the homes on the market through the multiple listing service, or MLS, plus all the ones that are under contract and have been sold. A specialist has time to sift through all of these listings, says Boss, and make the appointments to show you the houses, create comparative market analyses to determine proper pricing, and meet with necessary inspectors. Real estate agents also can help buyers traverse a taxing, 70-page legal contract. You want someone who knows the contracts, who has experience negotiating, and who can walk me through the entire process smoothly to look out for your interests.
Picking your real estate agent and lender blindly
One of the mistakes a lot of people make is finding a Realtor they aren’t comfortable with. Begin your search by asking relatives, friends, neighbors, and coworkers for referrals and follow up by doing some online homework.
First-time home buyers are generally more time-consuming than the average buyer and require more attention. A good real estate agent will be friendly and accommodating, show only homes that fit your parameters, and help you with strategies during the bidding process—but never pressure you into something you’re not comfortable with. It’s important that the Realtor be experienced with first-time buyers, understand their wants and needs, and be able to connect with them well.
Similarly, the buyers should feel at ease with and have complete confidence in their mortgage lender, and they should fully discuss and understand their financing options with that lender. Don’t ever apologize for asking questions as you don’t want to end up making a bad decision that could have been alleviated if you would have just done your homework and asked questions.
Thinking you’ll get everything on your “wish list”
Another mistake people make is being too close-minded while searching for their home. It is important to sit down with your real estate broker before searching for a home and creating a need/want list. Some of the items you might want to include as “must haves” or deal breakers are the towns you’d want to live in, square footage, or accessibility to transportation. The second part of the list would be things you don’t necessarily need but wish to have, such as a garage, new kitchen appliances, or an extra room for an office. As you search for your home, you may realize there are certain parameters you really want or don’t want. Understand that a certain amount of flexibility is essential. Your aim is to be able to afford everything you need, as well as some items you want, all while staying within a long-term budget.
Not keeping your feelings in check before hiring a home inspector
You’ve already chosen the perfect paint color to match your living room set. But hold on: Before you start picking out accent pillows for your sofa, you need to bring in a home inspector to check the safety of your potential new home. Inspectors will evaluate the structure, construction, and mechanical systems of the home and will give you the approximate price of repairs that may be needed. They will examine everything from the electrical system, water heater, and HVAC system to the foundation and floors.
Buyers should find and hire their own inspector, independent of the real estate broker, to ensure that there isn’t a conflict of interest. When you make your offer, make sure the seller is aware that your offer is contingent on the house passing inspection. You can also add a clause to the contract stating that the seller will pay up to a certain amount for any repairs required as a result of the inspection.
Not researching your neighborhood
You may be living in your dream home, but your neighborhood’s a nightmare. Or you may have children or are planning to have children in the near future, but you didn’t consider the quality of the school districts or parks in the vicinity. You should ask yourself a number of questions during your home search, such as “Are there good schools nearby?” and “Do I feel safe coming home at night?”
If schools are an important factor, it is critical that you check them out personally. Speak with the principals or the parents waiting on the steps outside to pick up their kids. To learn more about the community, open up the local newspaper. You can find out about community events or details about the local high school football team. Today’s buyers can gather all sorts of neighborhood information from real estate blogs and websites like Zillow and Trulia. It is the responsibility of the buyer to check crime reports, school options, churches, and shopping. Remember, you can change your house, but you can’t change the neighborhood.
Not considering the resale value of your home
You’ve just started the home-buying process. The prospect of selling a home hasn’t even crossed your mind. Besides, you’re thinking you might live in whatever home you buy forever. Yet life is full of surprises, whether it is a job transfer or having another child or taking care of an incapacitated relative.
When the time comes to put your house on the market, will your home be easy or difficult to sell? While you’re on the hunt, it’s a good idea to account for preferences of the typical home buyer. Just because you love to landscape or enjoy a bright-pink backsplash doesn’t mean a prospective buyer will. Two key elements to be considered when selling a home are using neutral colors and reducing clutter throughout the interior and the exterior of your home.
RESIDENTIAL REALTOR and BUSINESS BROKER
Dedication and excellent service are rare qualities in today’s fast-paced world, yet they are the cornerstone of Ann O’Brien’s real estate practice. She gives her time, attention, and expertise freely to fully understand her clients’ goals before answering their questions and helping them explore their options. Ann began her real estate career as Sunbelt Realty’s Office Manager, then moved on to becoming a licensed Phoenix Realtor who works with both residential real estate and main street business sales. She thoroughly enjoys meeting new people, exploring homes and businesses, and searching for just the right property or business for her clients. To ensure a successful experience, Ann utilizes her skill and experience in understanding and explaining contracts, negotiating, and remaining calm under pressure. She ensures her clients know what to expect each step of the way and is adept at guiding people through unfamiliar processes and situations, always pointing out the positive and negative in a potential decision. Before choosing a career in real estate, Ann was driven by her passion for giving back to the community and advocating for a better education for all children. She served first as Vice President and then four years as President of the Stetson Hills Elementary PTSA (Parent Teacher Student Association). Ann has also served on several Deer Valley Unified School District committees and is currently President of the Sandra Day O’Connor High School (SDOHS) Academy of American Studies Booster Club as well as the SDOHS-District Parent Liaison. Ann is an Arizona State University graduate with a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Management. While her career path at that time was Project Management, the education and expertise she received in time management, communication, and leadership gave her a solid foundation for real estate. She understands that real estate is a relationship-based business and she strives to create client relationships built on trust and confidence. When you need an agent who will put your goals first and whose ultimate goal is your complete satisfaction, call on Ann O’Brien.
Ann O’Brien and Kelcey Reed are sisters and Phoenix Arizona natives from the northwest valley. Their experience and dedication to excellence, combined with their knowledge of the Phoenix metro area, make them the best choice to successfully guide you through the purchase or sale of your home or business.
As granddaughters of two WWII veterans and as daughters of a Vietnam veteran and retired Phoenix Firefighter, we appreciate the sacrifice of those who protect and serve our communities and our country. In honor of active or retired military, police officers, and firefighters, we are proud to offer “homes for heroes” discounts.
To find out more about our hero discount contact us:
Phoenix Realtor Kelcey Reed sees her role in assisting buyers and sellers as more than a career. To her, it is a responsibility as well as an opportunity to make a positive impact on people’s lives. As a licensed residential real estate agent since 2006 and a Phoenix Arizona native, she knows the Phoenix Metro area very well. It is her easy-going attitude and cooperative spirit that Kelcey is known for, but when her clients’ interests are at stake, her intense loyalty, tenacity, and “out of the box” problem solving skills come to the forefront. She is a master negotiator who fights for her clients and does so with the utmost honesty and integrity. She will treat you like you are one of her family, making you feel both comfortable and informed during one of the largest purchases in your lifetime. Kelcey, who prides herself on referrals as her main source of business, works with all ranges of clients from both the buying and selling markets. Because she understands that home buyers and sellers have their money on the line, she makes sure her clients have all the pertinent facts and that they know their options. Kelcey holds a degree in Chemistry from Northern Arizona University and is the former supervisor of the DNA Unit of the Phoenix Police Department Crime Laboratory. Due to her extensive background in forensic science, she excels in attention to detail, problem solving, and handling any privacy concerns. Kelcey has a strong sense of community and, having served as a Director on her Home Owner’s Association’s (HOA) Board, she has a detailed understanding of HOA operations. In addition, she currently holds the position of Block Watch Area Captain where she actively helps educate her neighborhood in crime awareness and prevention. The vast experience Kelcey has with short sales, traditional home sales, first-time home buyers and experienced investors will serve you well. When you are looking for a knowledgeable Phoenix Realtor who will spare no effort to help you fulfill your real estate goals, Kelcey Reed is your realtor.