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Navigating the Home Buying Process: 10 Mistakes to Avoid

Kathy Williams April 25, 2024

If you’re considering buying a home in Florida, it’s important to avoid common mistakes that can hinder your home buying experience. With my expertise in Orlando real estate, I’ve seen these mistakes happen over and over again. That’s why I’m excited to share with you the top 10 mistakes that buyers make in Florida, including the last two, which may surprise you!
As a real estate expert, I understand that the conflicting news about the market in Florida can be overwhelming. That’s why I’m here to provide you with accurate information and practical advice on buying or selling a home in Central Florida. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a first-time buyer, my tips will help you navigate the home buying process, especially if you’re considering moving to Orlando. So, let’s dive in and make sure you avoid these common mistakes!

The Roadmap to a Successful Home Purchase: Avoid These 10 Mistakes

01. Not getting pre-approved for a mortgage.

Securing a pre-approval for a mortgage is the crucial first step in the home buying process. It’s important to get a referral from your real estate agent or find a reputable lender on your own. Once you’ve found the right lender, you’ll know what to expect as far as how much you’ll qualify for at the current rate and how much closing costs will be.
Having a clear understanding of your budget will save you from any unwelcome surprises down the line and allow you to focus on finding the perfect home for you and your family. So, make sure to get pre-approved before you start house hunting!

02. Skipping the home inspection.

Number two on the list is a big one for me: not getting a home inspection. Trust me, it makes my heart race just thinking about it! I cannot stress enough how important it is to get a proper inspection before buying a home. I know, in today’s competitive market, some buyers may feel pressure to waive the inspection to make their offer more attractive. But please, don’t do it.
Instead, you could consider limiting the inspections to only the most crucial elements, like structural, environmental, or mechanical issues, or maybe just focus on older components like the AC or plumbing. But again, this should only be done if you really need to be competitive in a multiple-offer situation. Remember, the goal is to still be able to get out of the contract if you find any major issues during the inspection.
Believe me, you don’t want any nasty surprises after closing on a home. So, my personal advice is to never waive the inspection completely.

03. Not researching the neighborhood.

Are you on the lookout for the best neighborhoods in Orlando? When buying a home, many people make the mistake of not researching the neighborhood thoroughly. I know it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of finding the perfect house, but it’s important to take a step back and think with your head, not just your heart.
Take some time to drive around the area and see what it’s really like. What are the schools like? What about shopping or restaurants? Is there a park where you can walk your dog? These are all important things to consider before making an offer.
Believe me, you don’t want to end up living in an area that doesn’t fit your lifestyle or needs. So, do your research and make an informed decision when choosing a neighborhood. It will save you a lot of headaches and regrets in the long run.

04. Not shopping around for the best mortgage rate.

When it comes to getting a mortgage, it’s important to shop around and find the best rate and terms for your situation. Don’t just settle for the first offer you receive. And please, please, don’t make any big purchases on credit right before closing. I’ve seen it cause so much stress and delay in the process. It’s always best to wait until after you’ve closed on your home before making any major purchases.
Also, it’s important to find a mortgage broker who is responsive and communicative. You want someone who will keep you updated and answer your questions throughout the process. So, don’t be afraid to ask for references or do your research before choosing a mortgage broker.

05. Not budgeting for closing costs.

One of the biggest mistakes first-time homebuyers make is not budgeting for closing costs. Closing costs can include fees for appraisal, inspection, title search, and insurance. These costs can add up quickly and catch buyers off guard. It’s important to factor in these costs when creating a budget for your home purchase.
In addition to closing costs, it’s also important to budget for unexpected expenses. After moving in, you may discover repairs or upgrades that need to be made. Or, unforeseen circumstances may arise that require additional expenses. Having a little cushion in your budget can help you prepare for these situations and avoid financial stress. So, make sure to budget wisely and leave some wiggle room for the unexpected.

06. Not considering the cost of homeowner’s insurance and not being aware of Florida’s hurricane and flood insurance requirements.

Let’s talk about homeowner’s insurance. Florida, as we all know, is a completely different beast when it comes to home insurance. With our hurricane and flood risks, insurance companies in Florida have more restrictions and higher premiums than other states. It’s important to research and understand what you’re getting into before committing to a policy.
Not only do you need to consider the cost, but also the coverage. Make sure you have enough coverage for your home and belongings, as well as liability protection in case someone gets injured on your property. And don’t forget about flood insurance – it’s not typically included in homeowner’s insurance policies and is often required in flood-prone areas. Do your due diligence and ask questions to make sure you’re getting the right coverage for your needs.

07. Not researching first time homebuyer grants and programs.

Researching first time homebuyer grants and programs is a crucial step that many people overlook. In Florida, we have some fantastic programs like Hometown Heroes, which provides downpayment and closing cost assistance to first responders, teachers, nurses, veterans, and firefighters. This program is such a game-changer for those who serve our communities and don’t always have the means to save up for a downpayment. It’s amazing how many people don’t know about this program, so make sure to do your research and see if you qualify for any grants or assistance.
Another common misconception is that first-time homebuyers need to put down 20% to purchase a home. But with FHA loans, you can put down as little as three and a half percent, and even conventional loans offer a 3% down payment option. That’s why it’s essential to speak with your lender and research all the available options. Don’t assume that you need to have a massive amount saved up to buy a home. There may be programs out there that can help you achieve your dream of homeownership sooner than you thought.

08. Not considering the cost of the Homeowners Association (HOA).

When you’re searching for a home, it’s important to keep in mind that there may be additional costs beyond just the mortgage payment. One of these costs is the homeowners association (HOA) fee. This fee is paid separately from your mortgage and covers things like maintenance of common areas, community amenities, and sometimes even lawn care and landscaping. It’s important to research and factor in the cost of the HOA when calculating your monthly expenses.
One thing to keep in mind is that not all HOAs are created equal. Some may have higher fees due to more amenities or a higher level of maintenance required, while others may have lower fees but fewer amenities. It’s important to consider what you’re getting for the fee and whether it aligns with your needs and budget. Additionally, some HOAs may have rules and regulations that you’ll need to follow, so be sure to read and understand the HOA bylaws before making an offer on a home.

09. Timing the market. 

Timing the real estate market can be tricky, and it’s a question that I receive a lot from people looking to buy or sell a home in Orlando. However, the truth is that the market here is still going strong. If you’re looking to buy a home for yourself and planning to live there for at least five years, then it’s always a good time to buy.
In real estate, there’s an old saying that goes,“You need time in the market, not timing the market.”Unlike stock buying, real estate prices don’t fluctuate like a yo-yo. They tend to have a slow and gradual climb, although the last few years have seen a quicker climb. However, our market in Orlando is still low in inventory, which keeps our home prices stable. So, don’t wait for the perfect time to buy or sell a home. Instead, focus on your personal goals and long-term plans and make a decision that’s right for you.

10. The fear of overpaying paralyzes you from buying.

The fear of overpaying can be paralyzing when it comes to buying a home. It’s important to remember that fear often stands for false evidence appearing real. While the market on the West Coast may be softening, the East Coast and specifically Florida are still seeing a lot of activity and stable prices. So, don’t let fear hold you back from buying your dream home.
If you plan on staying in your new home for at least five years, then you’re likely to be fine in this market. However, buying a home with the intention of moving out in just a year is not recommended. This year, the housing market may be costly, but that shouldn’t stop you from buying if you’re ready. Remember to focus on your long-term goals and make sure the home you’re buying fits your needs and budget.

Final Thoughts

Buying a home is a big decision, but with the right mindset and approach, it can be an exciting and rewarding experience. By following the tips and advice on this list, you’ll be well on your way to finding your dream home in the suburbs of Orlando Florida. Remember, be realistic about your budget, work with a trusted real estate agent, do your due diligence, and be open to compromise. And don’t forget to stay positive and enjoy the process! 
Thanks for reading, and I hope you found this guide helpful. Good luck on your home-buying journey!

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