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    20 Common (But Avoidable) Home-Buying Mistakes That Experienced Homeowners Will Never, Ever Make Again

    "Never, ever become friends with the sellers. We made the mistake of feeling empathy for the couple selling their home because the husband had serious health issues. They moved out of state before closing. The wife told us where a key was hidden and gave us permission to start work on little things before we closed, like cleaning and removing furniture they left behind. We visited two days before closing to get to work, thinking we would stay overnight. No way."

    The process of buying a home is anything but simple, whether you're saving up for the big purchase, just trying to get your offer accepted, or completing an entire novel's worth of paperwork ahead of closing day. Luckily, experienced homeowners are more than willing to share their home-buying advice so you don't make the same mistakes they did.

    After writing about the best advice for first-time homebuyers, even more of y'all chimed in with your dos, don'ts, and absolutely-nevers when it comes to buying a house. These are some of the best tips I read.

    1. "Be careful living near any establishment with set times for anything. My rule is 'no schools, no houses of worship,' because EVERYONE leaves around the same time, and if the streets aren’t laid out right, traffic can back up so much that you can’t even leave your home. Schools in particular can be a bit high energy around closing time; my parents have had kids walk through their fenced yard before, and people speed down the only streets they can drive down when buses block the other ones."

    stop sign extended on a yellow school bus

    2. "HOAs get a bad rap, but they can definitely work to your benefit, too...just make sure you read all the documents cover to cover before you close to make sure it's a good HOA. Ours has replaced roofs and siding at no extra cost, they maintain the grounds beautifully, and they have a large reserve for just about everything on their 30-year to-do list. All of these things are disclosed during the mortgage process — so pay attention to make sure your HOA will be working for you, not against you."


    3. "The best advice I got, which may sound dumb, was to make sure you buy a home that you can still afford if your monthly payments went up a few hundred dollars. Your mortgage amount stays the same, but taxes, insurance, and all the other escrow stuff can change over time. If your house gets reappraised, which is common after a sale, tax rates change and even insurance payments can go up. Your entire payment gets recalculated once a year and will change — usually by just a little, but occasionally by hundreds. I literally had no idea it wouldn't be the same for the life of my mortgage."


    4. "If you're planning on working from home, find out what internet is available for that house even before you put your offer in. I found a house that I absolutely loved, but unfortunately, the only internet available was super slow. Definitely not fast enough to work from home. Had I not figured that out before putting in an offer, I would've been in quite the pickle."

    hands typing on a computer from home

    5. "Make sure you're present for the inspection, and while you're there, check the bottom of the door frames outside the house. Press them with your finger and see if they are mushy, which indicates rot. Inspectors never do this, and wood rot is more expensive to fix than you'd realize."

    wood rotted underneath the frame of an exterior door

    6. "Whenever you’re choosing a home to buy, or even if you're renting it, swing by at different times of day and on different days of the week. A street that’s quiet on a Tuesday afternoon might be noisy on Saturday night. My parents unwittingly bought a house across the street from an older couple who frequently left their wild teenager home alone for days on end. She’d throw out-of-control parties, and the cops were always too busy to shut it down. And if you live in a touristy area, be aware of what attractions are in or near your neighborhood and what events take place there. I had a commute that was frequently affected by protests."


    7. "Don't just look at the interior of the home — pay attention to the land that you'll be taking care of, too. I bought a house on a hill not realizing what a pain in the ass the front yard and a slope along the driveway would be to mow, even with a self-propelled mower. My yard wasn't huge, but every time I mowed, it took me at least two hours to do the front yard, backyard, and along the driveway. Unless you are in great shape and don't mind mowing for two hours once a week, or have the money to pay for a mowing service, do not buy a house on a hill or steep incline. I lived there for four years total but decided to sell when the market prices of homes skyrocketed. I've never looked back."

    trimming grass along a steep hill near the curb of a driveway

    8. "When you sit down with your prospective mortgage lender, it's a major red flag if they ask you 'how much' you want to be approved for. They should always ask you how much you can afford for your monthly payments."


    9. "As someone who works for a plumbing company as an installation coordinator, do not overlook sewer lines connected to the house, and make sure you see all the permits if they were ever re-piped! I have had too many customers who’ve had to spend thousands of dollars on homes they bought within a year — in one particular case two days — because they didn't specifically ask about the condition of the sewer lines."

    sewer line being installed in trench outside home

    10. "Make sure you ask as a part of the purchase agreement that the sellers leave the home clean. We have always arranged for house cleaning right when we were moving out of a house we had sold, but I discovered that this isn't necessarily a part of a sales contract at all! Unless you specifically try to have that added, that is. If someone's been living in a home for a long time, you're going to encounter dirty drawers, appliances, shelves, and more. And it is a lot of extra pressure and stress to have to suddenly deep clean your new house right before you move in."


    11. "I can't stress this enough. Choose. Your. Realtor. Wisely. Our realtor was a family friend, so we felt inclined to use him. When we looked at the house we eventually bought, he didn't do his due diligence by asking the seller's agent for more information about the basement suite legalization when we questioned him. Turns out, there was an outstanding builder permit on the house that has now fallen on us to deal with. It'll now cost us just under $100K to renovate and complete it to make it 'legal.' We gave our realtor the chance to explain himself when this was found out and to help rectify the situation, but he got his back up and tried to turn it around on us. Our next house will definitely be dealt with in a more professional manner."

    couple meeting with a realtor outside of a prospective home

    12. "If you're buying an older home, hire a structural engineer to take a look at the same time you have the inspection. When we did this, it saved us from locking in a house that was such a disaster — even though it didn't look it whatsoever. The engineer told the seller that the house shouldn't even be on the market."

    Rachel Beth

    13. "Be even more thorough about your budget than you think you should be before you decide how much house you can afford. When banks give you an 'approval amount' for a mortgage, they don't account for all your bills. Things like utilities, groceries, and gas are not considered in the approval amount. As a result, homeowners-to-be develop a champagne taste on a beer budget and end up way over their heads."

    man looking at various bills on paper

    14. "Always test for lead paint and asbestos during inspections. We found out we had asbestos flooring in our closets after closing. It wasn't the biggest deal in the world to have it removed and replaced, but I still feel like an idiot for not even asking about that during the inspections."

    asbestos roof under roofing tile

    15. "Don't buy your first home with the intention of securing your dream home. Buying a max-budget house will leave you house poor and living check to check with no savings. Once you build equity in your home, then you can look into moving into a bigger and better house, using that equity as a down payment to keep your mortgage down."

    sold sign in front of a house

    16. "This is such a small thing, but check all the doors! We toured our home twice before buying never realizing the interior doors either didn’t latch or couldn’t be closed at all. The headache of having to assess and troubleshoot every bedroom, every bathroom, and every closet door continues. It’s been an eye opener to how significant the small things can be."


    17. "Never, ever become friends with the sellers. We made the mistake of feeling empathy for the couple selling their home because the husband had serious health issues. They moved out of state before closing. The wife told us where a key was hidden and gave us permission to start work on little things before we closed, like cleaning and removing furniture they left behind. We also toured the house in the dead of winter, and they had windows open 'because the wood stoves made the house too warm.' It was because of the stench! The house was filled with trash, it smelled, and it was filthy. We visited two days before closing to get to work, thinking we would stay overnight. No way. The couple had multiple cats and dogs and goats. We think the goats were housed in the den. We pulled up stinky, wet carpet, and the floor was rotted underneath, soaked with animal urine."

    dirty, cluttered dark room in a home

    18. "Always ask how old the roof and HVAC systems are because those are super expensive items that don't last the lifetime of the house. A new roof can run $25,000 or more, and a new HVAC is going to be at least $4,000, depending on the type. Roofs are going to last on average 20 years, and you can't expect an HVAC to last more than about 10 years."

    hvac repair people repairing a mini split system in a home

    19. "Pay attention to any dogs that might be in the area, especially if it's a close neighbor. We lived next door to a family that had nine dogs: three Saint Bernards and six rat dogs. The husband was cool and actually kept them quiet. The wife, however, thought it was hilarious to encourage them to ALL bark when she had a day off. My significant other worked from home at the time and had to have many conversations with the local police department."


    20. "If you're able to, hire a plumber and electrician to be a part of the home inspection. I wish we had. Our inspector was total trash, and we were naive enough to rely on his report. Six months later, we ended up needing to replace all the pipes and the water heat."

    plumber reaching under sink

    What's the best piece of homebuyer advice you've ever received (or read)? Tell us in the comments below.

    Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.