Everyone makes mistakes. I am sure you have heard that, and you have probably even said that, because it is true! We all do. The important thing is to learn from our mistakes. But you know what is even better? To learn from OTHER PEOPLE’S mistakes, then you don’t have to suffer the consequences!
The idea for this post came to me when I was chatting with a buyer and suggesting the neighborhood she and her husband had driven through and loved… might not be best choice for their next home. As I gave my reasons she laughed and said, “UGH! You are probably right! I feel so stupid.” I began to explain to her that I am ALWAYS right… when I remembered that speech is for my teenagers…and so instead I told her that I made the same mistake when I bought a home in the past….and I see lots of buyers making that very same mistake. My words were not to make her feel not stupid, but to drive home that I am always right and the world would run so much more smoothly if people would just LISTEN TO ME! No, no, I didn’t say that, ( once again, teens)….I told my buyer this because it is the TRUTH.
So, here they are…the three most common mistakes I see buyers make, and the SMARTER choice:
Mistake #1: Buying brand new because shiny…and not taking into account…your LIFE!
I have mentioned this before, but this time I will back it up with a plethora of evidence. It has been proven again and again, here, here, and here that long commutes are directly related to a DECREASE in happiness. Every article I read states that an easy way to increase your happiness is to move closer to work. A short commute is equivalent to a $40,000 pay raise , a stat that several articles used. $40,000 pay raise? That is some serious green. Why add misery to your life just so you can have a newer, bigger, and shinier house? It is a mistake I see ALL the time, and I made it myself…twice. As a mom I am going to throw in another opinion from my mom point of view…you also don’t want to be too far away from your kid’s activities(or your own)…unless those activities can be found again close to your new home. My daughter used to be a synchronized swimmer. Surprisingly there are very few pools that are deep enough and big enough to host a synchronized swim team in Arizona. The team she was on was a 45 minute drive away from our house…and 30 minutes once the traffic died down pick her up. She practiced 5 days a week. My daughter LOVED this sport, and I loved it for her…but it became TOO MUCH. There were no girls living near us to help carpool…and it took over everyone’s lives just getting her there and picking her up. If she was going to do this long term…we would have moved closer to the pool, but instead she quit the team. Sounds crazy, but no one wants to spend such a significant part of their life in the car for any reason.
Mistake #2: Buying too much house and being house poor.
Getting a pre approval is something I insist buyers do BEFORE we start to look at homes. Most real estate agents do the same. It is horrible to look at a certain price range and then to discover it is more than you can spend. It is almost impossible to lower your standards and be happy with what you find. What I haven’t spoken about is actually buying too much house. I don’t mean too big of a house, I mean too expensive of a home. You might think that isn’t possible …if you got the loan you can afford it, obviously. But that isn’t necessarily true. Lenders take debt to income ratios into account, and your credit score, and lots of other things I am sure….but they don’t know what you must spend every month to maintain your lifestyle. For instance, if your child is in a sport that can be VERY expensive. Or maybe you love to travel, or you love your $7 cafe mocha every day and you REALLY don’t want to give it up. You might be used to hiring people to take care of your yard, clean your house, clean your pool, detail your car, get your nails and hair done…and you have always been able to afford these luxuries before. But what about if your mortgage payment doubles every month? Will there be the same amount of discretionary funds? Will the cost of the yard maintenance and the house cleaning double as well? Don’t put financial stress into your life if you don’t have it….it may not be the best choice for you to buy as much as you qualify for…and it might be time to sit down and do a realistic monthly budget so you know right where you should spend…and not only know what you can spend.
Mistake #3: Thinking you won’t mind the stairs.
Yes, really. This mistake is not universal…but it is common. If you buy a two story home you can usually get more square footage in your home than a single level house will give you for your budget. The reason is simple…it costs the builder less to build up, so you pay less. Also, the foot print of the house is smaller, so the lot doesn’t need to be as big, or the same size lot feels bigger when some of the house’s square footage is on a second level. It used to be that people didn’t want the second story because it was hotter up there, and over the summer it cost way too much to cool the upper the level. The newer homes are so well insulated and so efficient it makes those complaints about the second level less important…but that doesn’t make people like the stairs anymore. I don’t know if we are lazy, or if we are overweight and our knees complain too much…but no one likes the stairs. This is one mistake I haven’t made…I know how lazy I am…but when past clients call me saying they want a different house it is usually because of their commute, money, or those damn stairs! Some families love a two story home…it makes the bedrooms seem more private and away from the noise…so like I said, this isn’t universal, but common.
So don’t be a victim to these COMMON mistakes! I don’t care if it is your first home you are buying or your 10th, we all make mistakes sometimes…but the more thought you put into your purchase, the better chance you have of being HAPPY with your purchase.
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