Buying a New Home

Buying your first home will always be an exciting time. After years of dreaming of taking your first steps on the property ladder, you can finally grasp your own keys and settle in the house you’ve always dreamed of. Once you’ve found homes for sale that completely capture your heart, that sense of excitement will only intensify.

However, buying new homes in west sussex can quickly become overly-complicated for many young first-time buyers. Some become swept up in the wave of excitement and inevitably make damaging mistakes. Purchasing your first home will likely be one of the most important investments of your life, so these mistakes can quickly prove incredibly expensive and turn your home-owning dream into a complete nightmare.

These are the biggest mistakes to avoid when buying a new home so you can get your life as a homeowner off to the best possible start.

On average, a deposit in the UK will cost you 10% of the home's value, but in some cases, you might need to come up with as much as 20%. For those using the Help to Buy scheme, however, you’ll need just a 5% deposit when purchasing a new build, meaning you can either get on the ladder much quicker or get much cheaper mortgage rates.

Even once you’ve saved enough for the initial deposit, you must ensure you can afford the monthly repayment rates. Of course, strict checks will be carried out during your mortgage application process, so you won’t be able to buy a home you can’t pay for. However, it’s still useful for you to figure out what you can realistically afford before starting your property search.

Here are some key mistakes to avoid:

Not Getting Pre-Approved for a Mortgage:

  • Mistake: Shopping for a home without knowing how much you can afford.
  • Solution: Get pre-approved for a mortgage to understand your budget and show sellers that you are a serious buyer.

Skipping the Home Inspection:

Not Closely Inspecting the Property: The house viewing is your opportunity to examine the interior, check out the storage space, and decide whether a particular home meets your requirements. More importantly, this is your chance to identify any underlying problems with the property and ensure you aren’t making a terrible investment.

While your eye will initially be drawn to the number of bedrooms and the size of the living space, it’s in the details that you’ll discover the home's actual value. Faulty electrics, cracked walls, and missing roof tiles can all be a huge red flag, and you should also keep an eye out for problems with the gutters or any signs of dampness.

Buying a new home is a significant investment and can be a complex process. Avoiding common mistakes can save you time, money, and stress. 
  • Mistake: Foregoing a professional home inspection to save money.
  • Solution: Always hire a certified inspector to identify potential issues that could lead to costly repairs in the future.

Ignoring the True Cost of Homeownership:

Forgetting Additional Costs: When figuring out your budget, you mustn’t forget the additional costs of buying a home. Many first-time buyers focus so intently on saving for a deposit they fail to consider the expenses of homebuyer surveys, solicitors fees, building insurance, and stamp duty. At the same time, the price of actually furnishing the home can also prove expensive. 

All of these things need to be considered when buying a home, and you also need to identify any hidden costs, such as maintenance and removal fees. A failure to consider these costs within your budget can soon become a financial disaster, and you’ll find yourself owning a property you can’t afford.
  • Mistake: Focusing only on the purchase price and mortgage payments.
  • Solution: Consider all costs, including property taxes, insurance, maintenance, utilities, and HOA fees, if applicable.

Making Large Financial Changes Before Closing:

  • Mistake: Making major purchases or changing jobs before your mortgage is finalized.
  • Solution: Maintain financial stability and avoid any significant changes until after closing to ensure your mortgage approval is not jeopardized.

Overlooking the Neighborhood:

  • Mistake: Falling in love with the house but not considering the neighborhood.
  • Solution: Research the neighborhood’s safety, amenities, schools, commute times, and future development plans to ensure they fit your lifestyle.

Not Considering Future Needs:

  • Mistake: Buying a home that meets your current needs but not considering future changes, such as family expansion or aging parents.
  • Solution: Think long-term and choose a home accommodating potential life changes.

Failing to Compare Mortgage Rates:

  • Mistake: Accepting the first mortgage offer without shopping around.
  • Solution: Compare rates and terms from multiple lenders to find the best deal and potentially save thousands over the life of the loan.

Waiving Contingencies Without Careful Consideration:

  • Mistake: Waiving contingencies (like inspection or financing) to make your offer more attractive.
  • Solution: Understand the risks and only waive contingencies if you are fully prepared to handle potential issues.

Rushing the Decision:

  • Mistake: Feeling pressured to make a quick decision in a competitive market.
  • Solution: Take your time to make a well-informed decision. A home is a significant investment and should not be rushed.

Not Reading the Fine Print:

  • Mistake: Skimming through contracts and agreements without fully understanding them.
  • Solution: Read all documents carefully and ask questions about anything unclear. Consider hiring a real estate attorney to review the contracts.

Neglecting to Plan for Closing Costs:

Failing to Set a Budget: Looking at properties you can’t afford is obviously an enormous waste of time, and it will also make you feel a little disappointed in the house you eventually end up with. The hardest part of buying a home is undoubtedly scraping together enough cash for a deposit, especially if you’re already renting and struggling to save much at a time.
  • Mistake: Forgetting to budget for closing costs, which can be substantial.
  • Solution: Plan for additional costs like title insurance, appraisal fees, and loan origination fees, typically ranging from 2-5% of the purchase price.

Underestimating Renovation Costs:

  • Mistake: Assuming renovations or repairs will be quick and inexpensive.
  • Solution: Get detailed estimates for any planned renovations and include a buffer for unexpected costs.

Being Influenced by Aesthetics:

  • Mistake: Being swayed by staging and decor rather than the home’s actual condition and layout.
  • Solution: Focus on the home’s structure, layout, and potential rather than the current decor, which can easily be changed.

Not Working with a Real Estate Agent:

  • Mistake: Trying to navigate the home-buying process without professional help.
  • Solution: Hire a reputable real estate agent who understands the local market and can guide you.

Failing to Secure a Written Agreement:

  • Mistake: Relying on verbal agreements with the seller or contractor.
  • Solution: Ensure all agreements and promises are documented in writing to avoid misunderstandings and protect your interests.

Being aware of these common mistakes and taking proactive steps to avoid them can make the home-buying process smoother and more successful.

Although most of these issues can eventually be fixed, you need to consider the cost of this maintenance when making an offer. Even if the seller has regarded these costs and deducted them from the asking price, you still need to be absolutely sure you’ll be able to afford them.