This is the second installment in my new series, “Mistakes in Real Estate – Top 12 Buyers Mistakes”. I hope you find this guide informative. Please reach out if you have any questions, success stories from using the guide, or would like to schedule a conversation about how I can help you with your real estate needs.
Table of Contents
Not Visiting a Home on Different Days/Times
Buyers are often out viewing a home with their Realtor during the week or on the weekend, but almost always during daylight hours. It is so important to go back and look at any homes that really interest you during different times and on different days. A neighborhood’s feel may change dramatically depending on when you visit, and you want to be sure that purchasing a home – probably the single largest purchase you will ever make – is going to land you in a place where you want to live.
If you’re looking at homes during the week, the neighborhood may be almost empty with many people at work and children at school. There may appear to be plenty of parking in the neighborhood and on surrounding streets. Everything may appear to be quiet and peaceful. Sometimes though, when you go back to visit this same neighborhood in the evening or on the weekend, you may find a completely different environment. The neighborhood may be full of hustle and bustle with people out and about. You may find more cars parked in the neighborhood, sometimes not just in driveways, but all through the streets. Visiting a neighborhood after dark will allow you to see how well lit the neighborhood is and how crowded or busy streets are once everyone is home from work or school. All of these are factors that you will want to consider when looking for a new place to call home.
The feel and dynamics of neighborhoods change during different times of the day and different days of the weeks. Only you can know what you are looking for in your home and neighborhood, so it’s best to visit any neighborhood that you are considering multiple times and during different days of the week to see if it’s the right fit for you.
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Ignoring the “Bones” of a Home and Focusing on “Flashy” Details
AKA Flip Blinders
So many times I have arrived at a home with a buyer who thought from the listing photos that we were about to see their “dream” home, only to have them sadly disappointed when the finishes of that home didn’t look nearly as good as it did in the photos. This often happens with homes that are “flips” by contractors or DIY homeowners.
While all of the flashy details can be great if they are done well, that is only true if the “bones” of the home have been maintained or updated as well. I can usually tell within five minutes of being in a home if it was a “flip” and what the quality of that work was. A quick giveaway is if the kitchen and baths have been updated (and not always done well), but none of the systems (HVAC, water heater, etc.), appliances, or roof have been updated. While having an updated kitchen and bath is nice, it’s not super helpful if you have an old and failing HVAC, water heater, or roof.
A buyer really needs to look at the quality of the work done on any home. Sometimes sellers will decide to paint old cabinets hoping to update them, but if the cabinets are not in good condition to begin with, this doesn’t necessarily help. Other times, sellers will put new paint on the walls, but if walls are not prepared first, the new paint won’t look good.
Another thing that I often see in homes is a floor pan that is outdated or just doesn’t work quite right. You need to be able to move into a home that will allow you to live the way you want to live and an awkward floor plan may not work for you. If someone has taken the time to renovate kitchens and baths, but has kept an awkward floor plan it’s often too late to try to fix it without ruining the newly renovated parts of the house.
If you are considering purchasing a home with recent renovations, make sure that you have a thorough home inspection to be sure that the home is in as good of condition as it appears to be. I’ve come across homes where kitchen drawers don’t open because the layout of the kitchen wasn’t well designed. I was in one house with a beautiful new main bath where the seamless glass shower door wouldn’t open because of faulty installation. I’ve also seen many homes where there were very old and barely operating HVAC systems. Buyers need to do their due diligence when considering purchasing any home, but particularly one with recent renovations.
I’m not saying that all renovated homes are bad, but if you are considering purchasing one, you really need to look closely at the “bones” of the house and make sure that they are in good condition, make sure that the renovations were done well, and be sure that the home works for the way that you want to live in it.
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Not Thinking About Resale Issues
So often buyers are so excited to find a home that they want to purchase that they don’t stop and think through things that may become a resale issue in the future for them. While something may not bother you too much or it may be something that you think that you can live with, you really do need to consider if this might be an issue for another buyer down the road when you decide to sell.
One of the first things to think about is are you overpaying for a home. If you are willing to pay way more than comparable homes are selling for, it may be very hard for you to turn around and sell the home without losing money on it. Be sure that your real estate agent is helping you to understand what a home should actually sell for by looking at comparable homes in the area that have sold recently so that you don’t end up in a situation where you have way overpaid for a home. It’s not necessarily a good thing to have bought the most expensive home in a neighborhood.
Another thing to consider is if a home conforms to the neighborhood and area. While a very unusual home may appeal to you, just remember there will be a limited buyer pool for a home that does not seem to fit the size and style of the neighborhood or community. In addition to looking at the style and size of a home, you should consider if the lot is “normal” for that area. If most homes in the neighborhood are sitting on an acre and the one you’re looking at is on less than 1/4 acre, that will be an issue for some buyers.
Related to if a home conforms to a neighborhood is the size and layout of a home. If you are in an area where most homes are large with an open floor plan, a small home with a choppy floor plan may not appeal to the majority of buyers in that area. Also, carefully look to make sure that a home has enough storage. Buyers always want plenty of storage in a home. All homes can be updated over time, but it’s often very expensive and sometimes impossible to change the layout and storage in a home.
You will also want to look very carefully at any updates or improvements made by previous owners to be sure that they have been done correctly. The last thing that a new owner wants to do is have to go in and “correct” work done by previous owners. One way to make sure that things were done and are working correctly is to have a home inspection before you purchase a home. A home inspection can help you understand what condition a home is in before you purchase it. Be sure to keep this in mind as well any time you do or have any work done on your home and make sure that all work is done correctly (and permits are pulled when needed) so that you don’t have any issues when you go to sell.
There are many factors to consider when looking at the location of a home to see if these things may be an issue with resale. Being the very first home as you turn into the neighborhood is a turn off for some buyers. A home located on a busy street or on a busy intersection will not appeal to a lot of buyers. Look at the condition of the homes in the neighborhood and the ones surrounding the home that you are considering. If they are not well-kept, this will be a turn off for many buyers. In addition to all of these visual factors, also consider the sounds that you can hear at a home. Traffic noise or train whistles or even low flying airplanes will deter many buyers. Large transmission power lines are also an issue for many buyers if they are clearly visible from a home. Try to take in the big picture of where a home is located and what is around it because if something bothers you, it will most likely bother the next buyer as well.
Some things that will require a little more digging, but are still very important to check for are past liens on a property as well as past insurance claims. Your settlement company will be able to do a lien search to make sure that any past liens on a home have been cleared. You should never purchase a home with an outstanding lien because once you own the home that financial problem becomes yours. You will want to purchase a home knowing that you will have a “clear title” on the home so there are no issues when you go to sell. Purchasing owner’s title insurance is always a good idea as well to protect you from any missed liens. You will also want to know if there have been a bunch of insurance claims related to a home placed by the current or previous owners. These claims stick with the home, not the owners, and can affect your ability to get reasonably priced (if any) homeowner’s insurance on the home. The best way to find out about insurance claims is to ask your current insurance provider to run a “CLUE” report to see if there will be any issues insuring a home if you decide to purchase it. You will want to make sure that there are no liens and no major insurance issues that will affect you when you purchase a home or make it difficult for you to sell the home in the future.
These are just a few of the many factors to consider when thinking about purchasing a home, especially if you know that you are going to sell the home again at some point. While many things about a home can be changed, other things are either impossible or very costly to change and these are the things that you should carefully consider before buying a home.
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Make sure you join me next week for Part 3 of series 1, Mistakes in Real Estate, Top 12 Buyer Mistakes! Also, if you found this content helpful, I’d love it if you could help me get the word our by sharing with your family and friends on your favorite social network(s.)