Sam's Home Buying Tips

How to Avoid the 10 Biggest Mistakes Buying a New Home

How to Use This Guide

Buying a home can seem overwhelming, but doesn’t have to be. This guide organizes the home selection process into ten common home buying mistakes observed by the author along with easy-to-use evaluation tools (e.g., checklists, tables and worksheets). The tools can be used with your own value judgments, and in some cases input from tables provided. You can also fine tune your effort by consulting local real estate agents, friends, research material, and specialized experts. Each tool is set up on a separate sheet that can be copied for use on multiple properties. An overview of each section of the guide follows below.

Mistake No. 1 – Not Targeting Your Search:
Location, Location, Location
It is virtually impossible to look at all homes available in a metropolitan area. A checklist is provided to help you and your real estate agent focus on the most critical factors for determining the best location(s) for your specific needs.

Mistake No. 2 – Not Fully Checking the Neighborhood:
Taking a “Bird’s Eye” View
It is important to look closely at the many characteristics and adjoining land uses distinguishing specific neighborhoods under consideration. A detailed checklist is provided to help you uncover fatal flaws before, rather than after, your purchase.

Mistake No. 3 – Not Fully Checking the Site:
Dream Property or Maintenance Hell?
It is easy to fall in love with a home site and miss many important details that significantly impact maintenance requirements, comfort, safety, and ultimately, your ability to enjoy owning the property. A checklist is provided to help you systematically evaluate each site under consideration.

Mistake No. 4 – Not Fully Checking the Exterior:
Beauty is Only Skin Deep
Even where a home’s overall appearance is impressive, a closer investigation can often reveal underlying quality and maintenance concerns. A checklist is provided to help you objectively get past the initial infatuation process and fully assess the quality of a home’s architectural design, building materials and overall condition.

Mistake No. 5 – Not Fully Checking the Interior:
Taking a Closer Look
There is typically a big difference in materials and construction workmanship in homes under consideration. A checklist is provided to help you walk through a house and quickly assess many important details you need to determine overall quality.

Mistake No. 6 – Not Checking Performance:
How’s This Baby Going to Run?
The quality of energy efficiency features in a home substantially impact utility bills, comfort, quiet, indoor air quality, and durability. A checklist is provided to help evaluate these performance features that are so important to overall home owner satisfaction.

Mistake No. 7 – Not Staying Organized from the Start:
Who Can Remember the Details?
Many home buyers are too casual about their selection process choosing to simply leave details about each property visit to memory or cryptic notes. Yet, staying organized can reduce a lot of stress associated with making a home purchase decision. A table is provided to efficiently track each property visited.

Mistake No. 8 – Not Visiting Top Choices Under Varied Conditions:
Who Needs Surprises?
Once the property selection process gets narrowed down to a few homes, it’s time to more carefully scrutinize each property under conditions that can expose hidden problems. A table is provided to help identify varied conditions for checking homes that can reveal less obvious, but important home owner concerns.

Mistake No. 9 – Not Getting the Right Expert Opinion:
Which Experts Do You Really Need?
Contract offers are typically contingent on an acceptable home inspection report. However, the completed checklists from the sections above may reveal concerns better addressed by other experts. A detailed table lays out a wide range of concerns and the most relevant expert opinions that can help you evaluate them.

Mistake No. 10 – Not Evaluating the Deal:
Understanding the Value of Each Property
After successfully identifying a home that best meets your needs, it’s time to submit a binding contract offer. However, too often, the basis for a home’s price is not fully understood. A simple worksheet is provided to help you estimate a property’s value so that you have more confidence in your final negotiations.