The Do's and Dont's of Home Buying

As you start researching the home buying process, there will be several things you want to do, and also, that you do NOT want to do before buying a house. Unless you’re planning to pay cash to purchase your home, you’ll likely need to get a loan. In order to get a loan, there are going to be several things that your mortgage loan officer will look at from a financial view. Do you make enough money to likely be able to repay the loan? What outstanding debts do you currently have? And many, many other questions like that will pop up. Those financial tips, along with many others listed here, can help ensure a smooth and successful home purchase.

Things you should DO when buying a home:

  • Plan Ahead. There are many steps involved in buying a home, all of which take time. Don't wait until you want (or need) to move NOW to start your search.
  • Meet with a mortgage loan officer prior to looking at homes. That way you can be sure that you're looking in the right price range, and won't be disappointed looking at houses you end up not being able to afford.
  • Be upfront and honest with your mortgage loan officer. They need to know about all of your financial information, including bank statements, existing debt, bankruptcy filings, child support, alimony, wage garnishments, and more. It will save you a lot of heartache down the road if you discuss all of these things first.
  • Prioritize your wants & needs. Make a list of your must-have features, other features that would be nice, any deal breakers, and so on. Make sure to share this list with your agent so that he or she can help you find the house that best matches your criteria.
  • Tell your agent if you're allergic to animals.
  • Use the 80/10/10 principle. It's unlikely you will find a home that you 100% love. Using the 80/10/10 principle, if you find a house that contains 80% of what you want and need, and 10% can be easily fixed, and the last 10% you can live with, you've found a keeper!
  • Do ask your buyer's agent questions. Frequently. Don't let any questions you may have go unanswered. Don't worry that your question might be stupid or silly. Make sure you have all the facts before signing on the dotted line.

Things you should NOT do when buying a home:

  • Don't quit or change your job.
  • Don't change your name.
  • Don't buy any large ticket items. Stay away from major purchases that your loan officer will likely question you about when reviewing your bank statements. Things like cars, boats, electronics, or even shopping for new furniture for the house before you close are no-no's.
  • Don't co-sign anything for a friend or family member. Even if it's not a high-priced loan or item, it can affect your credit score and your ability to obtain a loan.
  • Don't make large, unaccounted for deposits. Again, this could raise questions with your loan officer. If you absolutely have to make a large deposit, make sure to get a letter of explanation and ask the person providing the funds to write a gift letter explaining the funds.
  • Don't pull your credit. Don't sign up for any services, such as a new credit card, that would pull your credit report. Be wary that sometimes utility companies will pull your credit to set up new accounts when you move.
  • Don't talk to the sellers. This is why you hire your own buyer's agent to negotiate on your behalf and look out for your interests.
  • Don't talk to the seller's agent. Again, rely on your buyer's agent to do the talking for you. The same goes for looking at open houses -- don't attend them without your agent present.
  • Don't impulse buy. Buying a home can be a thrilling experience, but before you decide to submit an offer, really think your decision through. Nobody wants buyer's remorse.
  • When you make an offer, be prepared to close. Expect that the moment the sellers receive your offer they will accept it. Don't just submit an offer if you're not sure and then hope that you can get out of the deal later on if you change your mind. It's not fair to the seller, their agent, or your buyer's agent.