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Buying a Home: The 5 Biggest Mistakes that a Home Buyer Makes

As a Professional Real Estate Inspector I get to see and hear the right and wrong things people do when buying a home. These 5 tips will help you choose the right Real Estate Agent the first time.

Mistake #1: Not using an agent at all or using the Listing Agent as your 'Agent'. Not smart at all. By law, the listing agent is required to keep the Sellers best interest at stake, not yours! Why would anyone enter into a relationship handicapped like this?

I'm not aware of any state that makes a Buyer pay for their Agent. The Buyers agent normally gets paid from a cut of the Listing fees or the commissions are split.

If you choose wisely, you can put a trained real estate professional on your side for free! A true Buyers agent can help you negotiate a contract, fly through the mountain of paperwork, help you find the right home and help you schedule the needed inspections and appointments necessary when you do find your dream home.

Mistake #2: Relying on the Home Inspector your Agent recommends: I'm still amazed at how many people will blindly take the advice and recommendation of their Agent, or of the Listing Agent, when choosing an Inspector.

The agents have a financial stake in seeing the deal go through. Why risk the conflict of interest by solely relying on their choice of Inspectors? With a little research you can find your own home inspector who will have your best interest at stake. Don't know where to start? The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) has an easy to use search tool on their web site. You can choose by zip code or by state and city. You can find it here:

Mistake #3: Putting up "Non-Refundable" earnest money. This is like giving the Sellers a check and saying, "Here, you keep this. Even if we don't buy your home, you can keep our money". That's just plain stupid. If your Agent recommends it, find another agent because they don't have your best interest at stake.

I've seen Sellers request up to a $20,000 non-refundable earnest money check. Luckily my Client had a good agent and she told the Listing Agent "That is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. We'll give you the standard $1000 refundable earnest check. Take it or find another Buyer." The Seller accepted rather quickly since her home had been sitting on the market for 5 months.

Mistake #4: Falling in love with the home: "Earth to love struck home Buyer, they're building more homes every day!" The one group of consumers I see getting taken advantage of the most are those that "fall in love" with a home.

They will accept any terms set by a Seller. They will buy the home and tell themselves "It just needs a little work, I can do that myself." Even though they have never picked up a hammer in their life. They let their "love" cloud their vision and Judgement and end up paying hefty 'stupid tax'.

Mistake #5: Buying more home than what they can afford. There is a rule of thumb that says you should not buy a home that cost you more per month that 20 to 25% of your take home pay. I rarely see anyone following that rule of thumb today.

What I do see is consumers buying homes that take a large part of their monthly income. This leaves little room in their finances for emergency's, furniture, vacations, investing, etc. With the relaxed lending requirements, people are buying way more home than what they can realistically afford. If you go down this road, chances are that you'll grow to hate this home. You should own a home, the home should not own you.

I'm not a real estate agent, broker or attorney, nor am I a financial consultant nor do I claim to be an expert in any of these fields. The above views are my own and have been obtained from experiences in the Home Inspection field. Always consult with your financial planner and/or Real Estate Agent before making any decisions.

Donald Lawson is a Professional Real Estate Inspector licensed in Oklahoma (454) and Texas (#5824) and currently owns V.I.P. Home Inspections in Houston Texas. V.I.P. Home Inspections is a multi-inspector firm that inspects both commercial and residential inspections. You can find out more by clicking on this link to his site:

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