10 Home Buying Mistakes to Avoid (for First Time and Experienced Buyers)

Buying, Real Estate Tips | July 15, 2021 | written by Corbin Chivers

Looking to buy your first home? Maybe you’re ready to move your family out of the condo you bought after you finished university. Or maybe it’s finally time to downsize after spending 20 in one place. Whatever your situation, there are plenty of tips that you may have forgotten about, or never even knew in the first place!


  1. Shopping for a home before applying for a mortgageWhen you make any purchase, you likely check the price tag. You know what you can and can’t afford when you’re in line at the supermarket or the department store. Why would you shop for homes without this sense of security as well? Getting pre-approved for a mortgage gives you a realistic budget for what you can afford, so you don’t need to guess and deal with the disappointment of rejection after finding a great home that is actually out of your price range.
  2. Not saving enough for a down paymentYou only need 5% of the cost of the home as a down payment in Canada, but this is a very risky move for most home buyers. We’ll talk about the 20% mark a little later in this list (Step 7 to be exact). While it’s a great benchmark to strive for, it’s okay to have a down payment that’s a bit lower as well. Just make sure that you’re shopping within your budget. If you’ve decided that you want to put 15% down, don’t look at homes where you can only afford to put 10% down. It’s far easier to shift your focus to homes you can afford than it is to shift your budget to accommodate a home you can’t.
  3. Not accounting for the extra costsBuying a home is an expensive process. While most first time buyers are ready for when those mortgage payments start rolling through your stack of bills each month, what about property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and the cost to fix a rusty shower drain? The hidden costs of home ownership can be sneaky if you’re not expecting them. Making sure you have enough saved to deal with these costs can save you from headaches as you get settled into your new home. (More on this in Step 7!)
  4. Focusing on a house instead of a neighbourhoodMost home buyers have certain features in mind when selecting a home. But it’s easy to get too picky and miss out on a home that would have been a great fit for you and your family. A great tip is to focus on the neighbourhood instead. You don’t want to love your home but hate your community. If there are imperfections with your home, renovations can often come to the rescue, but there’s no way for you to cut down on traffic in your neighbourhood or build a park within walking distance! 
  5. Moving too quicklyAnxiousness is inevitable in the home buying process. In British Columbia especially, prices can fluctuate from month to month and make it seem like buying as soon as possible is necessary. But if you’re a prospective first time buyer, there is no shame in taking your time. Ensuring that you have the savings in place (more on this in Step 7!) and not rushing to make an offer on the first house you visit can help ease the anxiety of the process and allow you to find a great home that fits your budget!
  6. Making major life changes during the buying processYou’ve got your pre-approved mortgage and are looking for houses you can afford! Great news! But now is not the time to look for a new job, buy a new washing machine, or take out other loans. Any changes to your personal financial situation could prevent your loan from being approved, or could make your payments extremely difficult to manage. 
  7. Emptying your savingsA common mistake among first time home buyers is saving up just enough to reach their expected down payment and not keeping any savings for the future. This is often an issue when buyer’s want to hit the 20% down payment to avoid the necessary mortgage insurance. While spending a bit less each month seems like a good milestone to shoot for, not keeping a safety net of savings could prove to be costly as your bills begin to add up throughout the course of home ownership. It is likely safer to take on slightly higher long term payments if it means protecting some of your savings as an emergency fund.
  8. Making decisions with your heart instead of your headWhen you’re purchasing a home, it’s impossible to leave emotions behind. You are looking to build memories that will last a lifetime, so it’s crazy not to expect those emotions to creep into the home buying process. But understanding that patience and critical thinking is important to prevent overpaying for a home is key. Stick to your budget and don’t allow yourself to become too attached to a home until your offer is accepted.
  9. Buying a home you can’t affordIt’s easy to look at the loan you qualify for and think that you can afford the mortgage payments that would follow, but this is not always the case. Just because you have qualified for a $750,000 mortgage doesn’t mean that making those payments will be easy. When you factor in other living expenses that you may have underestimated (Tip #3 on this list), your payments for that “approved” amount could end up being very daunting! The more wiggle room you have in your monthly budget, the more you can enjoy life in your new home.
  10. Not working with an experienced agentThere are so many things to consider when buying your first house, why not make it as easy as possible and work with a knowledgeable, local agent to assist you through the buying process? That’s where we can help! If you have any questions or concerns about the home buying process, contact us today!
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