8 Dumb Mistakes That Can Scuttle Your Home-Buying Plans

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There are any number of reasons that your home-buying plans can go awry. Some are outside your control (for example, the home inspection reveals a problem that causes the lender to pull out), but others are just inadvertent mistakes you can avoid.

Not only can you make a mistake that will cost you a chance to get the home you want, but you could dig yourself into a financial hole that will take years to get out of.

The folks at Realtor.com spoke to a number of real estate pros who came up with a list of eight common — and dumb — mistakes that home buyers could make. First-time buyers are especially in danger because they haven’t been through the process before.

Here is the list of mistakes that buyers can easily avoid, so now you don’t have any excuses for missing out on the home you want.

Waiting to line up financing
The first thing you should do is meet with a lender to talk about your financing options. You may think you know what you can afford, but that’s not the same thing as getting a professional judgment.

Using a dubious mortgage lender
There are plenty of fly-by-night lenders in the mortgage industry and putting your trust in one of them can lead to a very disappointing experience. If you are one of several bidders for a home, the quality and reputation of your lender can tip the scales.

Getting pre-qualified instead of pre-approved
The difference here is that pre-approval means the lender has reviewed your documentation and sent your loan to an underwriter for review. Getting pre-qualified means only that you have a pulse. Big difference.

Shopping outside your price range
Looking at a home that is above your pre-approved loan is virtually guaranteed to lead to disappointment.

Making a lowball offer in a seller’s market
Your agent can perform a comparative analysis on how the home you want stacks up against other recent sales. If the home is fairly priced, a full-price offer may make sense if only to avoid making the seller mad.

Writing a bad personal letter to the seller
Sometimes a personal letter stating that you love the home and the neighborhood and want to raise your family there can help distinguish your offer from any others. It is also possible that you’ll say something that won’t help your cause. Be careful.

Making a big purchase while in escrow
If you decide to buy a new car while you’re in the process of buying a new house, the lender will have to re-evaluate your finances and you may lose your financing. Wait until you’ve got the home you want before buying a big ticket item.

Forgetting to budget for closing costs
Closing costs vary but typically run to 2% to 7% of the purchase price. Make sure you have enough cash after the down payment to pay these costs.