Classic House Hunting Mistakes You Want To Avoid

Dated: 03/12/2018

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Classic House-Hunting Mistakes You Want To Avoid At All Costs

You've been thinking about settling down and buying a home for quite some time now. You finally believe you're ready to take the plunge into the ocean of home ownership. So, is it time for you to tour some homes? The answer may be yes, but you're going to need a game plan. House hunting is about more than checking out a couple of open houses and choosing to buy the one you like best. The truth is, there's a science to house hunting! This means you need a strategy to save you time, money, and your sanity. So, before you hit the streets searching for homes, make sure you're aware of some classic house-hunting mistakes that you want to avoid at all costs.

1. Shopping for a home without a mortgage pre-approval letter 

Nothing screams “I’m not really serious” like going to look at homes without being pre-approved for a mortgage. This is because a seller is unlikely to entertain an offer from a potential buyer without a pre-approval letter. In a competitive housing market, without a pre-approval letter you can kiss your chance at a promising property goodbye. In addition to improving your odds of making a winning offer, a pre-approval letter also lets you know exactly how much mortgage you qualify for, so that you won’t waste time looking at properties you can’t afford. As your realtor, I always want to get to know your mortgage loan officer. A successful home purchase has three key ingredients; a potential home buyer that is pre-approved and knows what they want in a home, a mortgage lender that can close a loan quickly and a savvy realtor that can bring it all together. 

2. Shopping for a home without a realtor

In this low inventory housing market, the best way to find a house is to have a jump on the competition. A good realtor will not only be the first to see when new listings come up, but they might even know about pocket listings (listings that haven’t hit the market yet). A realtor that is well-networked is worth their weight in gold. They can also help you avoid costly negotiating mistakes when it comes time to make an offer. 

3. Shopping for a home with no clue of what you really want 

It’s important to make a wish list before you start shopping for a home. It’s fine to consider many types of properties at first to get a sense of your options. But, you will want to try to narrow them down before you begin touring homes with a realtor. Typically, in our initial consultation with you I will ask you three things;

1) Your purchase price threshold; this includes your top purchase price where you know your full payment.
2) The three areas (neighborhoods or zip codes) that you are interested in the most.
3) Your non-negotiables; number of bedrooms, bathrooms, lot size, etc.

Keeping these three things in mind will save your time and frustration.
4. Waiting too long to see a home

In this tight seller's market, if I call you about a new listing, you need to do whatever you can to see it right away. Waiting even a day can make the difference between getting the house or not. This exact situation just happened to one on my clients.  A home came on the market in a desirable area on Thursday morning. My client toured the home with me within hours of the home hitting the market. We put in a competitive full price offer with a 17 day close that evening and in less than 24 hours that client was in escrow on that home. So, don’t wait! Make the time to tour a hot home. You will thank me later.

5. Rushing through a home tour

To get a real sense of a home, you need to explore it in detail, and a home tour is a the best way to do it. This includes opening closets and pantry cabinets to ensure there is enough room for your things. Even though you'll eventually have a home inspection, use the tour to note red flags. Look beyond the gourmet kitchen with newer appliances and granite counter tops; check things like light switches, sliding doors, windows, etc. Also, take a look at fences, the roof, the hot water heater and the heating and air conditioning system to see what condition they are in.
6. Expecting perfection

If you’re hoping to find the perfect home in the perfect neighborhood, in the best school district, at a price you can afford, without any repairs to be made, you will probably be looking for a home forever. It’s rare to get everything you want in any area of life, and home shopping is no different. Focus on what’s most important to you. What are your deal breakers? 

7. Falling in love with the staging and not the home

So, you're impressed the moment you walk in the door. But, is it the house that you love? Or is it the decor? It is the job of the home stager is to make you fall in love at first sight.  However, unless you can talk to the stager directly for tips, you’re probably not going to be able to duplicate the same look once you move in. Make sure you are visualizing yourself in the home and falling in love with the house itself, not the house the way it’s staged. 

8. Paying attention to the home and not the neighborhood 

When you tour a home, make sure you save some time to tour the neighborhood as well. Do the neighbor kids have a heavy metal band playing in the garage every night. Do cars speed down the street where your kids will play? The last thing you want is to be in a beautiful home in a nightmare neighborhood. 

Once you've checked for any red flags, take some time to get the overall vibe of the community and make sure it's right for you. Notice whether the neighborhood is quiet or bustling; whether it attracts families or singles; and whether neighbors congregate on their porches or keep to themselves. Also, check for local shops,restaurants, or parks if amenities are important to you, as well as access to freeways and public transportation. My job as your realtor is to help you avoid making mistakes. Keep in mind that as a home buyer, I work for you for free. I don't get paid until we close on your home and it is in my best interest to make sure that you are happy! Contact me today at 916-838-8745 or e-mail me at or online at

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