Biggest Mistakes to Avoid When Buying or Selling Your Home

Don’t go home shopping, even window shopping, before you get pre-approved, with a good solid lender, and find out what you can Comfortably Afford. You’ll notice I didn’t say, “what you qualify for,” that magic number as to what you may actually be able to qualify for and what you can comfortably afford are usually not even close. That’s why you get pre-approved from someone you can trust and that is paying attention to you. Here’s a clue-if they will give you a pre-approval letter and you haven’t given them an application, there’s your sign. Don’t count too much on anything they tell you, if it’s just talk, because that’s all it is.

Don’t go paying off all of your debt so you can be “debt free” when you go to buy a home. First, it may actually hurt your credit to do so, which is the last thing you need to do. Same with any collections or charge offs. There may some debt it makes sense or is necessary to pay off before you buy a home, but be sure that what you ARE paying off, is going to help you with qualifying, because remember this: Credit and Common Sense DO NOT work together. So many things you may think “make sense” to do credit wise will come back to bite you. Again, this is why you get pre-approved by someone who is paying attention, and that’s usually not your large bank, and it matters not how long you may have had an account there. In most cases, the bigger the bank, the less they care about you. Just my opinion. The bottom line is always the bottom line, and in most cases, not having that debt will not keep you from qualifying, but not having enough money will.

ALWAYS get a good agent to represent you, preferably one that either makes a living in the real estate business, or someone who dearly loves you and there’s a good solid reason for using them, AND make sure you have a lender that’s also looking out for you. Even more critical if you’re working with an agent that doesn’t do this “all the time.” This is the biggest thing financially most people are ever going to be involved in. Yet I’ve met lots of smart people who went to buy a home and didn’t get someone to represent them because they either thought they could save money OR they had a better chance of getting the deal by not having someone represent them. I understand you’re thinking, but, bottom line, you’re leaving money on the table every time, and it’s going to cost you more and be more stressful without your own agent, who the seller is paying for in most cases.

Don’t go looking at a home, must less signing a contract to buy one, without knowing what the property taxes are. Again, back to the pre-approval part. I’ve had a commercial on the radio for a long time that says, “if you’ve been quote unquote pre-approved and you don’t know what’s figured in there for property taxes, you really don’t know what you’re pre-approved for,” which should make you wonder what else didn’t they tell you. I will get a call from someone who has either just signed a contract to purchase or is putting in an offer for a home where they can tell me what part of Italy the granite in the kitchen comes from, but when I ask about property taxes, it’s sometimes quiet for a little too long. After a few seconds, I ask, “Any idea?” As much as we’d love to forget them, property taxes go on and on EVERY year. Make sure you don’t put a contract in or fall in love with a home and then feel faint when you find out how much the taxes are. Please know that before you fall in love with it, and make sure you’re comfortable with it. And yes, they’re high all over this great state of Texas.

If you are selling your home, the market is going to determine what you’re going to end up with, not a particular agent or company. Selling your own home can be an emotional thing, but it’s also the largest financial transaction most people will ever be involved with. I absolutely recommend using a good professional agent to handle the business side of it. However, do NOT choose an agent solely because they told you they could get more than someone else may have told you. Again, it’s the MARKET. Because guess what? That old expression about, “don’t marry for money, because you’ll sure earn it?” Same with choosing an agent solely because they told you they could get you more than anyone else did. Guess what they’re going to tell you 4 weeks after having it on the market, when they’re suggesting a price reduction? It’s the MARKET. Hit the eye roll button. You are not going to save any money by not paying a commission, you’re leaving money on the table, and causing yourself a lot of extra stress and grief. Due to the exposure, the negotiating skills, the private contacts and a business approach, a professional agent is going to improve your bottom line every time.

Do not over price your home to begin with, thinking that you’ll just reduce the price if it doesn’t sell. Once a home listing gets stale, on the market for months, the more buyers are going to want to knock off the price. Same thing they will do if you don’t have an agent representing you. They figure you’re “saving all that money so…” The best offers you’re usually going to get are going to come in the first 30 days. And if it’s not showing, or people keep looking but nobody is making an offer, it is over-priced. I know what you’re thinking, and people tend to look at their homes like they do their kids, in that they’re the best looking, the smartest, nicer garage, whatever. In ANY market, and especially the one we’ve been experiencing around her and all over Texas in the last 18 months or so, if it’s sitting on the market, take it off or reduce it. How much money are you going to spend, “waiting to get YOUR price.” As I’m famous for saying, LOOK AT THE WHOLE PICTURE.

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