It’s a fact of life: Homes come with far more emotional weight than any other investment we make.
A home is a refuge from the world, a place to raise a family and, for some people, an investment they hope will bring them a good chunk of money down the road. We fall in love with houses in a way that we never fall in love with a portfolio of stocks and bonds.
All too often, though, we don’t realize that how we feel about homes blinds us when it comes time to buy or sell. We let our emotions blind us to cold facts about the market or the realities of ownership. Or we prioritize one set of emotional needs over others that are just are strong but may not be evident at first. And ignoring them can lead us to make bad financial decisions that can affect us for decades to come.
For instance, people might focus on their desire for a house that’s a certain size or style, but ignore the fact that they want to spend as much time as possible with family. So they might buy a “perfect” house that requires them to make a long daily commute to work and keeps them away from home for two extra hours each day.
SO YOU’RE FINALLY READY TO GET SERIOUS AND BUY A HOUSE—CHALK IT UP TO THE AMAZING SPRING WEATHER, OR MAYBE A PRECIOUS BUN BAKING IN THE OVEN, OR THAT MUCH ANTICIPATED PROMOTION AT WORK. WHATEVER THE REASON, YOU FEEL PRIMED TO START PORING OVER LISTINGS AND SPENDING YOUR WEEKENDS OPEN-HOUSE HOPPING. EXCITING!
YET WHILE YOU MIGHT FEEL PREPARED FOR THIS NEXT GIANT STEP, JUST REMEMBER—THERE’S A LOT OF PLANNING AND PREP WORK THAT GOES INTO THIS PURCHASE, EVEN BEFORE YOU START TO LOOK AT HOMES. SO MAKE SURE YOU’VE GOT ALL YOUR MALLARDS IN A ROW FIRST! USE THIS CHECKLIST TO FIGURE OUT IF THERE ARE ANY THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED.
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ABOUT A THIRD OF FUTURE FIRST-TIME HOMEBUYERS SAY THEIR CREDIT SCORE MIGHT HURT THEIR ABILITY TO BUY A HOME AND THAT 45 PERCENT SAID THEY HAVE DELAYED A HOME PURCHASE IN ORDER TO IMPROVE THEIR CREDIT, ACCORDING TO A NEW SURVEY BY EXPERIAN. ONE IN 5 SAID THEY WERE LIKELY TO OPT OUT OF THE MORTGAGE PROCESS OR BUYING A HOME ALL TOGETHER FOR THE NEXT FIVE TO 10 YEARS.
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We spoke with loan officers, real estate agents and other home-buying experts to give you a rundown of some of the biggies and tips that might help you avoid headaches and heartache before you sign the dotted line.