Mark Twain wrote, It is wiser to find out than to suppose. This quote is particularly applicable when buying real estate as assumptions often turn into costly mistakes.
Take, for example, the buyer who thinks the home is in good condition and skips the inspection only to learn the roof has a costly leak. Or the buyer who assumes the refrigerator is included but later finds out its not part of the sale.
When it comes to buying real estate, avoid the temptation to make assumptions about both the home-buying process and the house youre purchasing.
Although there are many more assumptions you could make, here are seven to avoid.
Assumption 1: Its on the property so it must be included
One home-buying pitfall is assuming something is included. Dont conclude an item is part of the home sale unless its included in your purchase contract.
Dont assume the seller is leaving the water softener, garden box, playset, antique mirror, etc. Always have your contract specifically clarify what items will stay, especially when it is unclear if the seller intends to sell them.
Assumption 2: I need a 10 to 20 percent down payment
The median down payment for first-time homebuyers has been 6 percent for three straight years. Yet, a recent study from the National Association of Realtors found nearly nine out of 10 non-homeowners thought a mortgage down payment of 10 percent or more was necessary.
In fact, down payments of 5 percent or less are common. Dont let confusion about down-payment requirements keep you from breaking into the real estate market. Talk to a lender to learn more about mortgage qualifications.
Assumption 3: The asking price is set
The asking price is just the first part of a negotiation. A Realtor will help you determine current market conditions to help you decide whether to offer more or less than the asking price. A Realtor will help you negotiate the purchase price along with deadlines, closing costs and repairs.
Assumption 4: Any home will increase in value
While most homes increase in value, not all do. If youre not careful about the home you choose, you may not have as much equity as you expected in future years. For example, a house near a busy road or train tracks may not increase as much as other similar homes. Or custom features that appeal only to a small segment might deter future buyers.
Theres a common phrase that says the time to think about selling your home is when youre buying it. As youre looking at properties, ask Realtors about which homes and features would have good resale value.
Assumption 5: Online home valuations are always accurate
There are tools online that will give you an estimate for what a home is worth; however, these tools are not always accurate.
In fact, a recent comparison of townhomes found one online estimate was about $20,000 lower than an analysis based on actual sales of similar, neighboring townhomes.
A Realtor will help you determine the price of a home by looking at actual sales data along with incorporating the unique aspects of each home and neighborhood. Dont risk thousands of dollars by automatically assuming an online valuation is correct.
Assumption 6: It wont cost much to make repairs
If something about the house appears wrong, make sure to inspect it. Do not assume the bad paint job on the ceiling is only cosmetic. Work with your home inspector to make sure the house isnt hiding deeper problems like water leaks or structural issues.
If your home inspection does reveal problems, do some research to see how much it would cost to make repairs. Get estimates so you better know what youre taking on before you buy.
Also, dont assume that if your inspection comes back with needed repairs the seller will make them.
Assumption 7: Buying on your own is easy
While buying may seem like an easy process on the surface, there are many pitfalls to avoid. These often involve contracts, negotiations, pricing, inspections and repairs. Make sure you have an expert working for you. Find a directory of Utah Realtors at UtahRealtors.com.