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15 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a Condo

For Sale SignBuying a condo can be overwhelming, there are many moving parts. Below are 15 things you want to avoid to help make the buying process a whole lot smoother. 

1. Continue to Rent Because it’s Cheaper

Actually, right now, in our marketplace, the cost of renting is higher than what homeownership would be at these amazing prices and interest rates. Not to mention the fact that rents go up on average by at least 3 percent per year, so a $1,000 rent today would be $1,344 in ten years. Even more importantly, you’ll be missing out on all of the mortgage interest deductions, which will likely save you thousands of dollars. 

2. Wait for Prices to Fall More

Guess what — prices are already starting to rebound. But even if they weren’t, there’s a good chance interest rates will be climbing, which means the mortgage payment could actually be higher, even if prices were to fall a tad. 

3. Wait for Rates to Get Lower

They could, but in my thirty-four years of selling real estate, these are the absolute lowest they’ve ever been. The federal government has put downward pressure on consumer prices to avoid inflation and has artificially driven down interest rates as well. That’s all about to end.

4. Can’t Afford Your Dream Home & Decide to Wait

Your dream home will be constantly evolving. What works today won’t work for you in the coming years. Your income will change, and so will your standards. Why not take advantage of this opportunity today to have a stepping stone to your dream home tomorrow?

5. Decide the Economy is too Scary

First, stop watching NBC and CNN and hearing all the doomsday prophets who cover the economic news. They pretend to have a crystal ball, when in fact, they are largely full of hype. Be mindful of the economy, but remember, everything is cyclical, and we are now on course for a new direction. 

6. It’s a Fantastic Home, but I need to See More

When will enough be enough? If you are clear on what your needs and wants are, and your gut tells you this the “the one”, don’t wait — you might just lose out. 

7. It’s Priced Well, but I want a Steal

Don’t we all? The reality is, if it’s priced well, another buyer will also appreciate the value and may just swoop it up, while you continue to “play not to lose” rather than “play to win”.

8. Buying Direct from a For-Sale-by-Owner Will Save Me Money

When it comes to for-sale-by-owners, they aren’t going to be priced lower just because they’re not listed with an agent. In fact, I have worked with many people who bought a for-sale-by-owner property without consulting a Realtor and paid way over market value for the home. 

9. I’m Having Cold Feet and Want to Back Out

We deal with this all the time — it’s called buyer’s remorse. Did I look at enough homes? Did I pay too much? Will something else better come on the market? Once you’re under contract for a home, stop looking. My suggestion is to breathe and remember why you fell in love with the home in the first place. 

10. Backing out Because of the Radon Test

Radon occurs in nature; virtually every home (and even the outdoors) has some level of radon. The EPA has set some of the toughest standards in the world when it comes to radon. Don’t panic if the radon level comes in above the EPA guidelines, a mitigation system can be installed. Frankly, one of the safest homes may just be one where you know what the radon levels are and the seller has installed a mitigation system, reducing the radon to nearly zero. 

11. Not Trilled with my Real Estate Agent — Yikes, now What

I think it’s important that you make a decision to work with just one real estate agent because they can show you every property on the market. They way you show commitment is by entering what can be called a buyer broker agreement. Find out if you have the legal right to exit this agreement if it’s truly clear that your business relationship isn’t working. My team allows termination with 24-hours notice because if the working relationship is strained, there’s no point in continuing down a difficult path. 

12. I’m Going to use my Divorce Attorney for Real Estate

Different attorneys specialize in different areas of law and rarely do they cross into fields not related to their practice. When choosing an attorney, pick ones that a real estate attorney, rather than a divorce attorney or a litigation attorney. After all, you wouldn’t go to your dentist for open heart surgery!

13. Aunt Sally Hasn’t Sold a Home in Months, but I feel I need to Work with Her

Aunt Sally may be the sweetest lady in the world, but this is one of the biggest decisions you are going to make in your lifetime. Tell Aunt Sally that you value your friendship so much you don’t want a real estate transaction gone sour to jeopardize the precious relationship. 

14. Save Money by not Having a Building Inspection

There are a few times when it might not make a lot of sense to have a building inspection, but 95% of the time, I think they’re worth it. In fact, not only will they save you money in the long run, they’ll help educate you on the ins and outs of what it takes to run the home. 

15. Bite off More than you can Chew

Lending practices continue to evolve. Some lenders allow you to stretch beyond your rational comfort level, so pay attention to it. Living with constant financial stress just isn’t worth it. Try to get most of your needs and wants satisfied, but not if it makes you ill whenever the bills come in. 

The biggest mistake of them all is NOT BUYING. 

 

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    Choosing the Right Team

    RealtorBuying a home requires a lot of players; you are likely going to needs a great real estate agent, not a Vanna White who tells you, “Here is the kitchen.” That much you can figure out on your own; you need someone who truly cares about you. Your Realtor has to understand your needs in housing, but more importantly, he or she needs to understand your wants. A Realtor who is worth every penny he or she earns is one who has a serious amount of experience. God forbid you or a loved on ever needs open heart surgery, but if you do, are you going to want a surgeon who has performed a few dozen operations, or would you want one who has done hundreds? You also want that doctor to regard you a human being and not just as another success, a notch in his or her belt; you want a person who truly cares. Likewise, your Realtor needs to have your best interests in mind and not just be concerned with how fast he or she can get more money. You need a realtor who knows how to negotiate in your best interest, one who has been down this road before. 

    How do you pick the right Realtor for you? Great question — but perhaps the real question is how to avoid Realtors who mainly worry about their bottom line and couldn’t care less about you making a choice that supports who you are. Here are some questions to ask the agent you are thinking about hiring:

    • How long have you been in business? Look for someone with a minimum of five years — ideally someone who has experienced a variety of real estate markets including boom times and bust times, allowing them to give you a sense of likely real estate trends ahead. 
    • How many homes have you sold thus far? Anything less than one hundred probably isn’t enough; although he or she might have great enthusiasm, you need more than a cheerleader — you need an advocate on your side, a filter who knows when to push and when to pull back. 
       
    • What areas do you serve, regarding both physical locations and types of real estate? If the person is willing to drive much farther than seems normal, or if he or she claims to be able to handle all kinds of real estate, from condos to commercial, run, don’t walk. This is not the time for a jack-of-all-trades. Realtors need to work within a reasonable geographic area as well as a specific housing type, rather than justifying covering the entire state and handling sales from condos to commercial properties. Anything less than that may mean the agent is focused on themselves and not the outcome for you. 
       
    • Do you have a team? If so, what does it consist of? Imagine going to a doctor for open heart surgery; do you really want him or her to photocopy your insurance card, weigh you in, take your blood pressure, do the actual lab reports, handle the billing, and sterilize the surgical equipment? No, you want the doctor to do what he or she does best and leave the rest to the others on the team. 
       
    • What systems will you be using to discover the right home? Does the Realtor like to work with for-sale-by-owners? Does he or she contact other agents to let them know he or she has a qualified buyer ready to go? Does he or she do mailings to target neighborhoods, when inventory is too low?
       
    • Am I allowed to terminate our buyer broker agreement at any time, without penalty, if I am not satisfied with your services? I believe if the agent is as good as he or she claims, he or she will have no problem allowing you to move on and hire someone different, someone more in-tune with your needs and wants. 

     

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