Buying a home can be stressful. Even the most prepared buyers and repeat buyers may find the process difficult to navigate. To complicate things further, we find ourselves facing a severe housing shortage. Like much of the country, inventory is historically low in Lawrence. Barring some unforeseen catastrophe, that’s not likely to change anytime soon.
How can this experience be made easier? Find a great REALTOR at the very beginning of your search, and be aware of the five pitfalls below. Having realistic expectations and a REALTOR on your side when entering the market to buy will not only make life easier, it can actually mean the difference between successfully finding and closing on a new home, and an everlasting chase of the rainbow.
Here are five pitfalls of home buying to avoid:
Going in with Unrealistic Expectations
We live in the world of HGTV. I know, it’s so fun! But unfortunately, it’s also fiction. The term “HGTV touches” seems to lose it’s meaning when used to describe that bank-owned houses that’s been vacant for 3 years with falling-off garage doors. It could have HGTV finishes, after someone dumps around $75,000 and countless hours into it. Few things ever really look like they do in our imagination. You simply cannot find a $400,000 house for $150,000. That extra bathroom, finished basement space, 10-foot ceilings and a fully updated kitchen with new floors? Each comes with a price tag.
This usually works itself out after viewing a number of homes in your price range. But buyers need to be able to adapt and recognize what the market is telling them. When expectations are realistic, a buyer is much more likely to land a great house when they see it! Also, it’s important to know that the consumer-facing websites and apps are NOT effective home searching tools. REALTORS have better tools, and any good one will offer to send you accurate and timely information for FREE!
Not Pulling the Trigger
I get it, the decision to make a $200,000 purchase is a tough one! Doubt can creep in. Second guessing. Buyer’s remorse. Even reverse buyer’s remorse! To add to it all, if a buyer isn’t prepared to make an offer as soon as the right house hits the market, they’re likely won’t have a shot at it. Houses in our market can sell within hours of hitting the MLS. Multiple offer situations are the norm. This is perhaps the most crucial reason I can think of to already have a trusted REALTOR on your side! Buyers browsing Zillow and hitting that “Send me more Info” button don’t have a prayer. Maybe they’ll get the next one - if they learn the lesson and get a Buyer’s Agent. The market moves fast and if a buyer is not prepared to pull the trigger, they’re not really a buyer after all.
Being Too Picky
I could literally talk every single buyer client I’ve ever had out of purchasing the home they bought. Every house has flaws; nothing is perfect. I could easily find ways to say this house sucks, that house sucks, this one’s got funky paint colors. . . Guess what? You can paint over them! Carpet can be replaced, windows can be cleaned, and finishes can be updated. If a buyer is too picky, they risk losing an opportunity. No house is ever going to be 100%, so be ready to make some compromises and THEN, customize it to whatever you dream it to be!
Low Ball Offers and Asking for the Moon
Alright, I’ve got an axe to grind here. In this tight market, LOW BALL OFFERS DO NOT GET ACCEEPTED. Period! Even if it’s true that the house that just hit the market is overpriced by $25,000, that seller is not going to accept a low offer so early in the listing. Maybe after it’s sat on the market for 90 days, but definitely not during that first week.
Alternatively, if you’ve gotten an offer accepted on a house, a reasonable approach to the inspections and repair negotiations can mean the difference between getting to the finish line, or going shopping again. EVERY house has needed repairs, and every buyer should be prepared to own a house that isn’t perfect. Stick to big ticket items like HVAC and roofs, etc. No buyer should have to buy a house with a shot roof!
My Way or the Highway Leads to the Highway
Maybe you’re just that type of person who knows better than everyone else. Maybe you got a degree from the University of Expert on Everything. You’re going to have the roughest time of them all. Approaching home buying with a “my way or the highway” attitude is a ticket to one place and one place only: the highway. Don’t be this buyer. Get a good agent, listen to them, don’t assume you already know all the answers.
Trust me on this. If tomorrow I upped and decided to move to Boise, Idaho, the first thing I’d do is get myself a REALTOR! And I do this every day! But I don’t know that market, and I don’t know what process to expect up there. Always remember: strong sellers price their house correctly and stick to it, and strong buyers get to the finish line!