10 Things Not To Do When Home Buying
It's Not Yours Until the Paperwork is Complete
You're counting down the days until closing, the sellers have accepted your offer, the lender has you pre-approved and the house is officially under contract. Does this make the home yours? Nope - nothing is certain until all the paperwork has been signed, and the keys are in your hand. There are still some things that can happen before you close, and if you're not careful about your actions between now and closing, you might accidentally slow things down, cause yourself stress, or worse, break the deal. Here is some advice on what NOT to do until the ink is dry:
1. Don't Change Jobs
Banks are always nervous about lending money, and usually a mortgage is the most a person may ever borrow. Banks like to see consistency in your job history. They are less nervous if you change jobs within the same field, but they prefer if you stay put, especially when waiting for mortgage approval. Until the keys are in your hands, don't change jobs unless it's absolutely necessary.
2. Don't Make a Large Purchase
It is wonderful news if you've just found out your credit is great. However, making a major purchase can quickly change your credit rating, because it changes your debt-to-income ratio. Although a new car would look great in the driveway of your new home, the car payment will not look great to those lending you money. They may decide not to lend you money after all. It's better to wait until after closing to make any major purchases, including furniture, cars, etc. If you absolutely must make a large purchase, it's a good idea to talk to your loan officer before you do it.
3. Don't Give Earnest Money Directly to a For Sale By Owner
Sad as it is, sometimes a seller spends a buyer's deposit money prior to closing. If the transaction doesn't take place, even for valid reasons, like financing problems, repairs, etc., the buyer ends up fighting to retrieve their funds. Your deposit is probably safer if placed in a trust account. Some sellers don't realize or understand that deposit funds are to be applied to your closing expenses. Find a neutral party, preferably an attorney, someone who can hold your deposit until you close. It's also a good idea that your contract defines what happens to these funds if closing never takes place.
4. Don't Forget to Switch Utilities
It may seem simple to arrange for utilities to be started or stopped, however many people forget to cancel or apply for utility service. As soon as you have a contract, it's a good idea to call the utility company. Find out how many days lead time they need in order to switch the service, and be sure they'll be discontinuing services at your old home. Depending on how far the move between your old home and your new one, you may have to contact a different utility company for the same service.
5. Don't Forget Hazard Insurance
Hazard Insurance is another often forgotten task that some buyers scramble to take care of right before closing. Before you can close, a lender will want ensure that you have some type of coverage for the new home. Obtain this coverage as early as possible in order to avoid delaying the closing. In some areas, other types of insurance coverage may be required. Your lender can indicate what insurance requirements there are in your area.
6. Don't Allow Emotions to Take Over
While searching for a home to buy, it's important to be realistic. There is no perfect home, although there is a home perfect for you. If there are repairs needed, don't allow the seller's refusal to do a small repair ruin the deal or your dreams. Often, it isn't a big deal for the buyer to make small repairs. However also keep in mind that some repairs are too big, so don't allow yourself to fall in love with a house that you may not be able to handle, financially or emotionally. Decide beforehand what kind of repairs you can realistically handle and then stick with that decision when looking for homes. Remember to maintain a good attitude and keep a cool head throughout the entire process, including during and after an inspection, as well as at closing.
7. Don't Make Friends with the Seller
Although it's important to be cordial, it isn't a great idea to get into a lot of discussion with the seller. No matter how nice you are, the home you are buying used to be theirs and you may just hurt their feelings by making a comment you think is fine. Everyone makes changes to their new home, but some sellers don't like change and a casual statement could end up costing you when issues about repairs or other things come about. Be friendly, but don't make friends with the sellers. Remember, it's not always a good idea to mix business with pleasure.
8. Don't Panic if the Appraisal Comes in Low
If the appraisal comes in low, there are several options you have in order to resolve things before you panic. Talk to your lender, your realtor, the seller and others in order to decide what is best for your situation. Some resolution could include buyer paying more, seller asking less, finding middle ground, etc…
9. Don't Ignore Lender Requirements
Every lender will have certain requirements or documentation. Listen carefully and provide everything they need in a timely manner if you want things to go as quickly as possible. Your closing may depend on it.
10. Don't Do Things Alone
If you decided to work with an agent, part of your agent's job is making sure things go smoothly and that closing is completed. A good agent should be tracking most of the day to day details that involve the buyer, the seller, the lender or the seller's agent. Don't let your agents off the hook by neglecting to ask for their help. Remember, they're getting paid to help you.