Ellen Pitts NC Realtor
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buying a house checklist, home buyer mistakes

Good morning, friends! This is Ellen Pitts your Raleigh and Cary area Realtor! Today we’re talking about 5 things buyers do that cost them money. These home buyer mistakes are things you do not want to have on your buying a house checklist. We’re talking about it right now so stick around to learn more!

Let’s dive in to today’s topic!! 

1. Not getting pre-approved for a loan. 

First you need to understand a few things about the pre-approval process. Different lenders mean different things when they say pre-approval. One might mean asking you how your credit is, how much you make and if you have any outstanding debts. Without pulling credit or doing any independent investigating about you, the buyer, a lender can tell you you are pre-approved solely based on your memory of your financial picture.

Not a good idea. Even if your memory is perfect, what if you’ve been the victim of identity theft and there is stuff on your credit that you are oblivious to? Do you really want to find that out AFTER you’ve put down a non-refundable deposit and paid out of pocket for your inspections?

You don’t want that. Trust me. You don’t. 

Before you make an offer on a house, you always want to have completed the following steps:

  • Fill out the lenders application
  • Have the lender pull your credit and write you a letter with the amount you are approved to purchase. Some people stop here. But it is really important to take the next step BEFORE you make an offer on a home.
  • The next thing you should do is submit all the lender requested paperwork. This is going to be things like your tax statements, W2’s, employment verification. Once you get under contract for a home, it is very easy to get lax in the paperwork...because you’ve started packing. Things get chaotic once you’re in “moving mode.” Remember that you aren’t the only person getting a loan. When your paperwork goes to underwriting there is a stack of other people’s paperwork in front of you. If you wait too long to get your paperwork completed, you will not close on time. 

A delayed closing always costs you money. There are storage fees for storing your moving truck. There are extra nights in hotels. And there is lots of stress. Get your paperwork in and through underwriting, before you make an offer on a home. 

2.  Not getting a survey

You should always get a survey when you buy a home. The purchase contract we use in North Carolina says that it is the seller’s obligation to sell the property without any encumbrances. When you are buying a home, the seller is responsible for fixing it if anything that belongs to them is encroaching on the neighbors property. Recently I was involved in a transaction where the house was encroaching on the neighboring property. It was beyond the setbacks where it was allowed to be. It was supposed to be no more than 25 feet from the property line. It was 23 feet from the property line. The neighbor had the right to force the seller to move the house. You can watch the video to see how it turned out here.

If there is some kind of encroachment issue on the property, you want to know about when you buy the property and it is not your responsibility to fix. Not when you or a neighbor sells the property and you are now liable as the homeowner. 

3. Financing furniture before closing

I know. New house, new life. New Furniture!!! 

But wait!!! 

If you finance furniture or anything else, for that matter...a new car, your kids college education, an engagement ring. You could lose your new home. 

This is why:

Remember all that paperwork we talked about earlier? Your lending approval was based on your financial picture at the time of approval. But if something in that financial picture changes, i.e., you take on a new debt, you are no longer approved for that loan. And if it’s the day before closing, guess what. Your loan is going back to underwriting. There is a little bit of a grace period in the contract in case you can’t close on time, but if your approval takes longer than that period, the seller may decide it’s better not to wait. Especially in a competitive market or if they had backup offers to begin with.

Never make large purchases when in the process of buying a home.

4. Choosing the wrong lender

There are certain lenders that I am familiar with that when I see a preapproval come through my email, I just think “oh no.” It really is a bad idea to use cost as the only factor in choosing a lender (or any professional for that matter). Of course, cost is always A factor in the businesses we use. But it should never be the only factor. When businesses cut costs too much, it can mean they have to run lean on manpower. In these situations the lenders underwriters and processors might have a larger number of transactions per person to manage...which means phone calls can go unreturned and it can just take longer to get your loan to closing, which means it may be more likely for your loan to be dropped. 

I was once the listing agent for a property where the buyer used one of these lenders. We tried to convince them to use a different lender from the beginning, but the buyers were set on using this particular lender. They put all their decision power on the cost of the loan, rather than the whole process. 3 days before closing (after many unreturned phone calls) we learned that the package had just gotten to underwriting and the loan was NOT APPROVED. 

Always consider recommendations and online reviews when choosing a lender.

5. Not considering their Realtors advice

Sometimes people who haven’t had a good experience with a Realtor, think that the only thing an agent does is unlocking the door to show them the home. But the real value in an agent, is the experience and expertise they bring with them when challenging situations arise. And they almost always do. Buying and selling a home is a complicated process and there are many places where things can go wrong, some of which you have heard about in this video.

I understand that many people have had bad experiences with agents in the past. Believe me, I have had my own bad experiences before I became a Realtor. But I promise you there are many good, trustworthy, competent agents out there to choose from. And I’m not just talking about myself. There really are many great agents out there that will take good care of you and make sure you are aware of the potential pitfalls in any real estate transaction so you can make good decisions. The key is to choose someone that is a good fit, that you know you can trust and you feel good talking to.

Thanks again for watching! I hope you learned something today. If you liked this video, would you mind sharing it with a friend? 


See more buyer $$ tips here:

I Found a Home, How Much Money Do I offer? by Lynn Pineda

Tips for Preparing to Get a Mortgage by Kyle Hiscock

Home Inspection Repair Requests a Buyer Shouldn’t Make by Bill Gassett

Ready to search for your new home? Search Wake County Real Estate here.


About the Author Ellen Pitts

Ellen is the founder of Harmony Realty, a socially conscious realty company. Ellen believes in empowering her clients through education and open communication. Ellen is a number-cruncher at heart and takes great pleasure in following and analyzing the trends of the housing industry. She loves communicating the big picture to her clients and helping them to understand how the market affects their sale or purchase. Her honest and down-to-earth approach allows her clients to make informed and intelligent decisions to get the most out of their offers and negotiations.

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