Six Ways Buyers Sabotage Their Own House Hunts

There are plenty of ways buyers can sabotage their own house hunts. Read what Allison Goodhart outlines as the 6 ways homebuyers do that.

(Photo: Courtesy of the Goodhart Group)

Alexandria, VA – We often hear about sellers who don’t do the right things when selling a home. But what about buyers? There are plenty of ways buyers can sabotage their own house hunts. And yes, we’ve seen all of them over the years!

Our goal is to not let it happen to you! Read on for our top six ways buyers sabotage their own house hunts.

1) Unrealistic Expectations

We see this issue most often with first-time homebuyers. They spend hours developing a wish list for their dream home, only to see their hopes dashed as soon as they start looking at homes they can actually afford. We always advise clients that before they do anything else, they should speak with a lender and set a budget for the new home. Then they should meet with a realtor to talk about what’s realistic within that budget. First-time home buyers must remember that this home is their entry into real estate and most likely not their forever home. Getting into the market early is what will build equity and help them buy that dream home down the line.

2) Looking Too Much

Spending hours looking at homes online, attending countless open houses, and going on hundreds of showings with your realtor are all signs of looking too much. When a buyer looks at too many homes, the options get muddied and they often become confused about what it is they really want. The best strategy is to sit down with your realtor before looking at any homes or listings and mapping out your “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves.”

3) Being Overly Critical

Buyers will often nitpick about paint colors, lighting fixtures, and flooring choices. They may dismiss even looking at a house due to its curb appeal, or lack thereof. We can’t stress the importance of keeping an open mind when looking at homes—and looking past cosmetic challenges. While you may not like dark walls or carpeted bedrooms, these things can be easily changed. Remember to look at the bones of the house, the things that cannot be changed, such as the home style, location, lot/yard, and layout. For example, you can’t magically turn a Colonial into a Cape Cod, but you can rip up carpets and install hardwood floors.

4) Making a Lowball Offer

We can’t stress this one enough. In our area, houses rarely sell for below the asking price. In our current highly competitive real estate climate, properties often receive several offers and some sell well above asking price.

Buyers may see lowball offers work on HGTV, but it is extremely rare that they work out for our clients. Lowball offers risk upsetting the sellers, making them less inclined to negotiate. Buyers are much better off making a reasonable offer that will keep the door open to negotiation.

Consider the seller’s point of view. This is the home that they have loved and invested heavily in. When a stranger comes in with a very low offer, it’s not only financially painful but also personally insulting.

5) Not Being Willing to Negotiate

While a buyer may be disappointed or even angry when a seller doesn’t accept their initial offer, they should not walk away! Keep the lines of communication open for negotiation. Remember that price is only one part of the offer. The seller may be swayed by a quick closing or limited contingencies.

Buyers should be reasonable during the negotiations. They should remain flexible and meet the sellers halfway. If, for example, the sellers accept a buyer’s low offer, the buyer should not be overly demanding during the home inspection process. In other words, buyers should not ask for every tiny issue to be addressed.

6) Getting Emotionally Attached to a Home

We see this time and again. Buyers fall in love with a home before it is officially theirs. We understand. It’s difficult not to start picturing life in a new home as soon as, or even before, the offer is submitted. There are hurdles to overcome even after your offer is accepted. We encourage our clients to try to keep their emotions in check until settlement day. That’s the time to pop the champagne!

The Bottom Line

Successful house hunters are realistic, reasonable, and flexible. They set a budget before they start looking at homes. They don’t look too much and they don’t get emotionally invested in any property until it is theirs.

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