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Mistakes To Avoid When Buying A DC Area Home

Illustration about someone carefully checking a property
October 30, 2019 Washington DC

Buying a home is one of the most important financial decisions you’ll make in your life.

Even if you’ve bought before, DC area home prices are on the high side, making the process a little more intimidating. Though high prices aren’t the best news for you as a buyer, the bright side is that many people can easily qualify for assistance when it comes time to purchase.

But buying a home can be complicated. Even the most careful shopper can easily overlook crucial details that have a drastic effect on a home’s bottom line. But there’s tons of information available to help you make a wise and informed decision.

That’s why we’ve prepared this handy guide to help you avoid some of the most common home-buying mistakes we see every day.

Homebuyer Mistake #1: Not Preparing

Buying a home is a serious business. It shouldn’t be casually approached as a trip to the grocery store.

Houselogic recommends potential buyers begin preparations for up to one year before making their purchase. There’s plenty to keep you busy, especially if you’ve never bought a home before. Create a checklist to keep you on track. A year before you buy, check your credit scores, determine how much house you can afford, and develop a down payment plan.

Homebuyer Mistake #2: Not Checking Your Credit Score

Even with the popularity of free credit monitoring sites and scorecards available from most credit card companies, the truth is most people don’t know what is on their credit report.

You’ll need to get a copy of your reports from all three of the major credit bureaus. Free copies are available yearly from Annual Credit Report.com.

Once you get your copies, take care of anything outstanding and dispute any incorrect items.

You’ll have to pay to get your credit scores. Don’t trust scores from sites like Credit Karma or credit card companies. Scores are often incorrect and only come from one source. Mortgage companies will use a combined score from all three of the bureaus to determine your eligibility.

Homebuyer Mistake #3: Not Having Enough Money

You’ll need to save more than just a down payment in order to purchase your home. Even if you can take advantage of downpayment assistance programs, you’ll still need money for a deposit and closing costs.

Homebuyer Mistake #4: Failing to Take Advantage of Assistance

Making good money might not disqualify you for help if you’re trying to buy in the DC area. Because the Nation’s Capital has a high cost of living, various programs’ income limits are much higher.

Start with the local housing authority to determine what kind of help may be available. If it’s been over three years since you’ve had a mortgage, you can still qualify for one of these programs.

There is a lot of help available:

Fairfax County Homebuyer Programs

Arlington County Housing Division’s Programs and Services

DC Home Purchase Assistance Program (HPAP)

The Maryland Mortgage Program (MMP)

Prince George’s County’s First-Time Home Buyer Assistance Programs

Virginia Housing Development Homebuyer Programs

Homebuyer Mistake #4: Waiving the Home Inspection

Making your offer stand out is important in a competitive real estate market like DC. People do all sorts of crazy things to get noticed: offering way over the asking price, buying in cash, or offering to close within 30 days.

A common way to make your offer more attractive is to waive your right to a home inspection. Don’t do it. Serious problems aren’t always visible, and even a newer home can have problems that will cost a significant amount of money to correct.

While you might not want to make your offer contingent upon a satisfactory inspection, you’ll want to know what you’re getting into before closing.

Homebuyer Mistake #5: Not Understanding the Process

Buying a home is a process that involves a lot of different people and has many moving parts.

One of the most important parts of the process is negotiation. If you’re buying a home, be prepared for a lot of back and forth, even if your contract is accepted.

There are offers and counter-offers, contingencies, deadlines, and a slew of other practices that may seem foreign to you.

Take time to educate yourself about what’s involved with buying a home. Don’t jump into buying a home without preparing. By avoiding these common home buyer mistakes, you are well on your way to finding the home of your dreams.

SEO Strategist at Help Scout, where we make excellent customer service achievable for companies of all sizes. Connect with her onLinkedIn or Instagram.

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