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The top 3 mistakes made by first-time buyers

First-time homebuyers are emerging as a bigger force in the housing market. But getting approved for a mortgage, finding the right home and staying within budget can pose a challenge for them. notes some of the most common first-time buyer mistakes:

1. Judging only the mortgage payment: Some first-time homebuyers mistakenly focus only on the monthly mortgage payment, which they can afford, and forget that a home comes with other expenses, which they can’t afford.

“They have an idea of what their mortgage payment is going to be, but they don’t realize there’s much more to it,” says attorney Rafael Castellanos, a managing director at Expert Title Insurance. Property insurance, taxes, homeowner association dues, maintenance and utility bills can add up too.

2. Emptying out their savings for a downpayment: It’s a mistake to spend everything in the savings account for a downpayment, says Ed Conarchy, a mortgage planner and investment adviser at Cherry Creek Mortgage in Gurnee, Ill. “Some people scrape all their money together to make the 20 percent downpayment so they don’t have to pay for mortgage insurance, but they are picking the wrong poison because they are left with no savings at all,” he says. “I’d take paying for mortgage insurance any day over not having money for rainy days. Everyone – especially homeowners – needs to have a rainy-day fund.”

3. Getting new credit before the deal is closed: When borrowers prequalify for a loan, they need to avoid big-ticket purchases until the loan closes. Lenders pull credit reports before the closing to make sure the borrower’s financial situation has not changed since the loan was approved. Any new loans on their credit report could cause a closing delay.

First-time buyers “sign the contract and they want to buy new furniture for the house or a new car,” says Steve Anderson, a broker and owner at RE/MAX Benchmark Realty in Las Vegas. “I remember one case where, just before closing, the buyer drove to the office and says, ‘Look at my brand-new car.’ I told them, ‘You’d better go back to that dealership.'” Continue reading