8 Costly Mistakes of New Homeowners

Oh, homeownership. If you have ever rented for any period of time, or even lived with your parents for a while, you likely dreamed of one day finally having a house of your own, maybe with a garage and a yard; a house with décor and paint that you chose. That’s totally normal, of course, and you are certainly entitled to feel that way.

It’s exciting and invigorating to finally have a house to call your own, but it’s also easy to get ahead of yourself and let the idea of finally having that home take over your ability to think clearly and cloud your judgment.

Your priorities might begin to shift as you find that searching for and actually purchasing a home are not the easiest tasks. Don’t be fooled by those “I’m buying a house and it is so much fun!” TV shows, friends. It’s complicated and you might feel lucky you made it out alive. What might have started off as a huge list of “must haves” may have eventually shifted to your “nice to have” and “need to have” lists.

We’re not trying to make you nervous, but we want to help arm you and, protect you, in a sense from getting ahead of yourself. Once you are in that house, it is yours, and it is very common to make some mistakes once in a while. All novices need some training, and we want to shed some light on some of the more popular mistakes that are made by new homeowners. Hey, you might wind up saving some money!

8  Not Hiring an Inspector

Hooray! Your offer was accepted! That means you should be getting your house soon, right? Of course, you want that house to be YOUR house as soon as humanly possible; for the love of all things sweet and holy, the sound of jingling keys is haunting you in your sleep. You close in six weeks? SIX WEEKS?! That seems like a century from now. Why in the hell can’t you close next week?!

You might be tempted to waive your home inspection in an attempt to speed things up. Unless you or your significant other are contractors who can handle any and all issues that could potentially occur with the house, this is really not a good idea.

If you decide to purchase a house and forego the home inspection, you are essentially taking the house “as-is,” and the seller is not responsible for replacing or fixing anything that is not immediately visible. This means:

  • You can point out chipped paint, stairs that look shoddy, carpets that need cleaned or replaced, or any other visibly noticeable things wrong with the home.
  • You have lost the right to request any additional repairs that are not agreed to at the time of signing the purchase contract. These repairs could potentially include the need for a new roof, foundation issues, plumbing, windows or even the existence of termites.
  • Let’s say you didn’t hire an inspector, and then a couple weeks after you move in, your ceiling begins leaking and, whoops, you need a new roof. Guess who is responsible for the cost of that roof? Take a look in the mirror, guys.
  • Now, if you have hired an inspector, and he or she were to find something like anything listed above, you can request the seller to take care of any or all of the issues called out in order to fulfill your contract, or ask that the price of the house be reduced in order to allow you to cover the cost of these repairs. In addition, if you find out there are issues that you think make the house no longer worthy of becoming your home, if your offer is contingent upon a good inspector’s report, you can choose to back out of your offer

7 Going House Poor

So you’ve decided it is time to take the plunge and get a house. Before you do anything, at least in the USA, it is highly recommended for you to be preapproved for a mortgage. Some real estate agents won’t even work with you if you do not have preapproval. 

Luckily, it is pretty easy to get preapproved (the hard parts come later), and sometimes you might even be surprised what a bank is willing to preapprove you for. You might think, “Hey! I can actually get a house for that much? Sweet!”

Stop. Stop now. Step away from the Zillow search.

Setting a budget when you buy a house is so, so important. You have to know what you are willing and able to spend, and understand the realistic additional costs that are not included within the asking price, such as down payment, closing costs, inspection and having the land surveyed. It’s also hard to not go completely delusional and be willing to bend in certain areas with what you want in a house. 

Never Buy a House You Can't Afford or You'll Be in the Poor House

Brand-spankin’ new kitchens are gorgeous and awesome to have, but something that needs a little updating might be more your speed financially.

If you can afford all the fancy bells and whistles you want, and still have some money left in your savings, then go forth and conquer. Unfortunately, more often than not, first time homebuyers tend to jump, or belly flop, in so hard that they clean out their savings. Not a penny is left.

  • “I’ll save up again! I did it before!” might be a common thought among these individuals.
    • Sure, that sounds great. You can save up; that is a definite possibility.

    Make Sure the House You Buy Is a Good Investment for You

    A lot of unexpected things can be covered by your insurance or even by a home warranty, if you have one (some houses come with them when you purchase them). As much as no one wants to think of their new home having any major issues right off the bat, it can happen. You have to be prepared for those situations and, the best way to do that is by making a budget and sticking to it! You’ll be better off having some money left in savings – trust us. 

    6 Moving Woes

    Moving companies. Are they worth it?

    It almost seems like you are damned if you do and you are damned if you don’t when it comes to moving. This one is really going to depend on your research and, well, if you trust your friends and family members.

    Before you close on your house and are finally all moved in, there are a lot of details to coordinate to actually accomplish the move. Boxing things up and labeling the boxes is a huge task in and of itself. Then you have to move them.

    It's More Convenient to Have Someone Else Move You, But It's More Expensive as Well

    You have a couple choices, both of which have their pros and cons, risks and advantages. We’ll chat through them a bit here, just so you can weigh your options.

    • Hiring a moving company seems like an easy way out of everything, doesn’t it? The people come in, they take all your crap, load it into a truck, take it to your new home and unload all your crap. You get to follow along happily with your spouse or kids in tow.

    Unfortunately, it isn’t always so simple and you do not always get what you paid for (upwards of a couple thousand dollars likely). Horror stories include broken furniture, stolen or withheld items, finding movers asleep on your bed in your house, and so on.

    • On the other hand, you might decide to do things your own way and recruit your friends and family to help. Paying them in food, beer, hugs and high-fives, it’s cheap labor. Remember, though, with all things that are cheap, you sometimes wind up getting what you paid for. Well-meaning family members may begin to unpack prematurely, placing things in spots you planned to use for something else. There are also the same risks as hiring help, like broken furniture and lazy workers (oh, cut Uncle Bob a break, will ya?).

    Honestly, think it over and talk to some friends. Find out who they recommend and who they do not recommend. Before you commit to spending a whole lot of money just to have people move your stuff, be sure you are making the right decision. 

    5 Attempting to be a DIY Master

    Home repair and renovation shows are all the rage these days. Flip though the channels and you can find everything from a cute, fit blonde who buys and renovates houses to sell for profit, to the popular brothers who help a family purchase a house and renovate it to make it exactly what they want.

    To the do-it-yourselfers – like a family (probably similar to yours) who purchased a house requiring a some form of renovation and, like magic, it is ready and sparkling clean in a matter of an hour episode. It’s magical, and it sucks you in.

    After watching enough of these shows, you might begin to get the itch.

    • - You know it, the feeling that your house would be so much more open if that wall just didn’t exist.
    • - Or that your kitchen really is meant to have a farmhouse sink.

    All of this TV-watching could make you wind up feeling like you, too, can handle accomplishing these kinds of tasks, or even that you should completely redo your kitchen, plant all of your own bushes and trees (okay, that might be an easier one), install your own flooring or perform your own bathroom renovation. All. By. Your. Self. After multiple Google searches and Pinterest finds have inspired you, you say “screw it!” and head to your local “home” store to purchase supplies to just get it done.

    We know you’ve spent hours on the couch watching enough TV to equate to a full work day spent hours researching in order to learn how to successfully handle all of these things yourself, but we highly and sincerely recommend at least getting the opinion of a professional contractor before you do anything drastic. One little mistake could ultimately lead to thousands of dollars in repair or, even worse, an injury.

    Look, we don’t mean to make it sound like you are not capable of swinging a sledgehammer like the rest of them – you probably are, and we think it is great that you want to take matters into your own hands. Just know that sometimes doing it yourself is not always cheaper. 

    4 Not Having a Clear Décor Direction

    When you move into your first house, we’re probably not too far off in assuming that the furniture you have may have followed you along for many years and, unless you saved up to get new furniture for every room, that stuff is here to stay for a while. Maybe your curtains are mismatched, too, and you have no throw rugs because, well, all the other places you rented in the past were carpeted. 

    You move in, get unpacked and – crap – nothing matches. You look like you live in a college dorm gone supersized. Panic sets in and you venture to your nearest (or furthest) Target because. Let’s be honest. Target. And you binge shop.

    $500 later and you’re out of breath. Sweat beads have formed on your forehead and you need someone from the store to help hold your Starbucks and push your second cart to the car. But, you’ve done it. You have made some spectacular steps toward claiming this house as your own and you need to get home. Now. When you do, you take everything out of the bag immediately. It’s time to get your decorating on.

    Oh, sh*t. Nothing matches and... Hold on. Did you get cat curtains? (Kudos to you if you at least got a matching set.)

    Okay, okay. Everyone is entitled to have their own taste. We’re not here to hate on you for your love of all things cats, with your cat pillows and cat curtains. Go on with your cat self. We’re not even here to hate on you if you like the country look, modern, traditional, whatever. The whole point is that you need to try to have a plan.

    • Think of each room and think about what you want it to look like.
    • Take that idea and see how it can transition into another room.
    • Now is a great time to go pin-happy and get some ideas.
    • Print those ideas out. Put them near each other. See how you like the way they look together.

    Even if you like the eclectic look, that isn’t “matchy-matchy,” you don’t want your house to look bizarre. Make a plan, stick to it, and you’ll be set. 

    3 Improperly Handling Wallpaper

    Hold on. Back that train up. Are we really going to make you read a few paragraphs about wallpaper? Didn’t we already talk about the dangers of attempting something yourself if you aren’t fully prepared for it? Why would we even consider such a thing for a topic?

    Because it is important. It’s very important.

    And, if you have ever handled installing or removing wallpaper before, you know that it is one of the largest pains in the ass you will ever deal with when it comes to fixing up a house. Knocking down a wall? Sure, get it done (with help, please!); Want to sand and wax your floors? Have at it, sweetheart. But, that wallpaper. Watch out for it.

    Disclaimer: we know, some of you may have done just fine with the wallpaper installation and removal and are probably thinking “this is stupid.” If that is you, congrats, honey. Get yourself some popcorn and fast forward to the next portion of the article.

    Alright, now, cutting to the chase. If you have thought through the design for your house and you have decided you want to add some wallpaper to add a little pizzazz to a room or two, seeing as it is apparently in style again, have at it. Just be sure you know what you are doing before you head into it.

    • Don’t just stick it to your wall without prepping it. Be sure to prime it for the wallpaper.
    • Be sure to measure the space you need to apply the paper to, and that you measure your paper properly.
    • Make sure you really like that pattern, because you’re going to need to stick with it for a while.

    So, what if the trend has died and you suddenly hate your wallpaper? Or, perhaps you are one of the lucky ones who moved into a house with textured walls; maybe even something similar to what you’ve seen in Willy Wonka (the snozberries taste like snozberries!). In this case, do yourself a favor and invest in some good tools to remove it. 

    Don’t just start ripping it off and, dears, do not get a scoring tool unless you know it is absolutely necessary. The damage that can be done to the walls could wind up costing major dollars to repair. 

    2 Not Sweating the Small Stuff

    When you are settled in your house, the last thing you want to think about is fixing something that doesn’t seem like it is that big of a deal. We get it; you’ve finally found your home and you want to enjoy it. Maybe you work full-time, have kids, and you just want to be able to enjoy your evenings and weekends. 

    By “enjoy” we mean getting dinner on the table, kids bathed and in bed, dishes cleaned, laundry done and (if you are lucky) folded and put away. In that case, something that doesn’t seem like it is that important just yet, really can be pushed to the back burner.

    Those items on the back burner can add up, though, and ultimately turn into items that you need to focus on immediately, or else. We don’t want to freak you out here, but these are just a handful of some of the smaller items that might wind up taking a toll on your wallet if left unattended:

    • Not attending to the caulk: check out the surfaces surrounding your sinks and tubs. Do you see any cracks? Fill those suckers up, before water leaks through to your floors! A little caulk goes a long way and will save you from replacing floors in the future.
    • Ignoring a running toilet: the sound of a running toilet may be something you have grown accustomed to over time. Maybe you just figure you should let it go for now; there are larger fish to fry. Yeah, like your water bill. Letting a toilet run is a major waste of water, and can waste up to two gallons of water per minute it is running. That adds up over time, and can ultimately lead to your paying way too much on your water bill if left unattended.
    • Leaving the gutters alone: getting up on a ladder sounds really appealing, doesn’t it? Yeah, it doesn’t. But the consequences of not doing so to clean out your gutters can really cost a nasty amount of money. A leak in your gutters can cause damage to your house, including mold. If your gutters are too full, and cannot allow drainage from your roof to flow freely, it will back up onto your roof and, in turn damage it. 

    1 Being Wooed by Landscaping

    Curb appeal is a huge asset for a seller when they are trying to get an offer on their house. Think of it from your perspective, as a buyer. Can you picture yourself in a house that looks bland on the outside or, even worse, appears to be unkempt? What kind of an impression do you get from houses with appearances like that?

    It’s natural for you to be sucked in by a house that has gorgeous landscaping. We all want to have pretty houses and, if it is pretty to begin with, that means it should stay that way once you are in (or that’s how you picture it when you imagine taking your kids’ photos on the front stoop on the first day of school).

    • Until the day comes that you realize you do not have any sort of a green thumb. And you haven’t had time to weed in weeks. Oh, and you have a new garden unintentionally growing within the cracks of your steps and taking over those beautiful flowers that used to live and thrive outside in the sunshine.
    • Right. That’s right. You have to maintain all of those lush plants. You have to take care of them in order to help them thrive the way they did when you did your first tour of the house. Unfortunately, you really don’t have much of an interest in learning about gardening and landscapers cost money.

    Something to consider before you make your offer is if you can actually keep those plants outside alive. If not, are you willing and able to hire a landscaping company to come in on a regular basis to help maintain everything. If not, what is your plan? Do you want to rip everything out and get some potted plants to hold their space for now? What about if you ever want to resell the house and need to consider curb appeal again, but from the perspective of a seller?

    We don’t think you should let something like ornate landscaping prevent you from putting in an offer on what seems to be your dream house, but what we do suggest is simply to look into your options for when you get to move in. That goes for everything we’ve talked about so far. Think everything over, make a plan, and go with it.

    And, of course, enjoy your new home

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