3 Common Mistakes When Buying for the First Time
February 28, 2019
First-time buyers are finding the housing market challenging to break into. On average, they have to put in 3.8 offers before their offer is accepted, which is higher than the 2.5 offers that repeat buyers typically make, according to a new survey of about 2,000 U.S. adults from NerdWallet, a personal finance website.
Further, 56 percent of first-time buyers say they offered more than the asking price before they were successful in their home purchase. For comparison, 35 percent of repeat buyers say they offered more than the asking price.
“It shows that things are tough out there for first-time home buyers,” says Holden Lewis, home expert at NerdWallet. “There’s just more competition for those homes. There’s not a whole lot of them out there in a lot of markets, and there’s a lot of buyers who are competing for those homes.”
As the newbies in the market too, first-time buyers may be prone to some mistakes, such as lowballing initial offers or failing to shop around for their mortgage, Lewis says.
Here are three common mistakes first-time buyers often make:
Failing to shop around for a mortgage: NerdWallet’s research found that 50 percent of all buyers applied to just one lender for their mortgage. But that could be leaving money on the table. Shopping around can save you, on average, $430 in interest in the first year for those with a fixed-rate $260,000 mortgage, NerdWallet’s study finds. “That savings would accumulate and compound for every year that they had the loan,” Lewis told CNBC.
Believing the 20 percent down payment myth: Lewis says another common rookie mistake is believing you have to put down more of a down payment than you really do. Seventy-one percent of current homeowners say they made down payments of 20 percent or less, according to U.S. Census Bureau data (of those, 23 percent of buyers put down between 11 to 20 percent; 16 percent put down 6 to 10 percent; and 32 percent put down 5 percent or less). In markets where home prices are rising at a faster clip, buyers may find it time to buy now rather than wait until they ‘ve saved a 20 percent down payment, Lewis says. But Lewis adds that in some markets, however, home values may be increasing more than what a buyer would pay for mortgage insurance. Lenders usually require mortgage insurance when borrowers don’t put at least 20 percent down.
Showing unwillingness to compromise: First-time buyers may also be going in with too-high expectations. Housing inventories in the lower price ranges, which typically first-time buyers are looking at, are low and that means limited choices. Twenty-six percent of all recent buyers surveyed say they purchased a home knowing it would need improvement or work. Twenty-one percent also said they had to compromise on their list of must-haves. Real estate experts urge first-time buyers to identify their top priorities, such as commute times, schools, and square footage. “It really helps to know going into that it that you’re just simply not going to get everything you want,” Lewis told CNBC.
“Recent Home Buyers Stretched, Future Hunters Optimistic,” NerdWallet (Feb. 26, 2019) and “Buying a Home for the First Time? Avoid These Mistakes,” CNBC (Feb. 27, 2019)
Updated: July 02, 2020