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6 House-Hunting Pitfalls To Avoid

If you’re not using all available tools on your house hunt, your dream home could slip by unnoticed.

I’m living in my dream home. While it wasn’t easy to locate, during the search, I learned many things about the buying process. Now that I’m settled and have made some improvements, I began thinking:

How can I help other buyers avoid some of the pitfalls of house hunting?

I reached out to Arron Sweeney, founder of Your Berkeley and Realtor at King Realty Group in San Francisco, as well as Lance King, broker and owner of King Realty Group. They shared six home-buying hang-ups and how to avoid them.

1. Missing out on the perfect place

Hundreds of new homes hit the market every day. If you’re not using all available house-hunting tools, your dream home could slip by unnoticed. Even worse, someone else might snatch it up before you even knew it was for sale.

That’s where Trulia’s Nearby Home Alerts come in handy. This useful tool sends instant notifications to your smartphone when new listings near your current location come on the market. This way, you can stress less and think more about window treatments than about missing your window of opportunity.

2. Choosing the wrong lender

Few things are more frustrating than locating your ideal property, only to learn that there are issues with your loan.

“We always tell our clients to use our preferred lenders because they’ll get great rates, the VIP treatment, and if there’s a problem, they’ll find out on the front end,” says Sweeney.

Preferred lenders earn their preferred status only after they’ve consistently delivered. Seek out preferred lenders, and don’t be afraid to interview two or three to find your ideal fit.

3. Fixating on price per square foot

Is price per square foot one of your search criteria? King says that if this is the case, you might want to think again. Measurements, he says, are not guaranteed to be accurate, and mismeasurements can place appropriately priced homes outside your search parameters.

4. Desperation

When prices are on the rise, buyers get antsy and sellers get greedy. “Many buyers have been outbid on numerous properties and have just become tired of looking,” says Sweeney. “As a result, they are placing ridiculously high offers on properties that just aren’t worth it — just to get into a home this minute.”

Avoid the temptation and build yourself a backup plan. Have your real estate agent recommend short-term or corporate rental options while you wait for your dream home to appear on the market.

5. Forgoing inspections

In a perfect world, sellers would disclose all issues to prospective buyers. Since that’s not the case, inspections are a great idea, yet one that Sweeney sees clients skipping too often.

“I have a strong knowledge of construction and always advise my clients to pony up and have both an independent pest and contractor inspection,” says Sweeney. Inspections identify red flags and can address the general state of a property. They also provide leverage when it comes time to negotiate.

6. Buying a “project”

The unwritten rule of renovating: It will take more time and money than expected. It’s important to know your threshold for renovations before you buy a fixer-upper. Your real estate agent will have referrals to general contractors and specialty tradesmen. It doesn’t hurt to schedule a showing with one of these pros in tow either. It’s better to know what you’re getting into before you find yourself in over your head.

With a bit of patience and the right agent, you can avoid many of the pains that come with house hunting. And if all goes according to plan, you’ll end up with a place you’ll be proud to call home.