7 Mistakes First-Time Homebuyers Make—and How to Avoid Them

Buying a home for the first time can be one of the most exciting things you’ve ever experienced. You’ve always dreamed of living in your own place, with the freedom to do whatever you want. You might not be able to afford your ultimate dream house right out of the gate, but it will be yours.

But shopping for homes for sale in Allendale and other Bergen County towns can also be nerve-racking. It’s easy to make mistakes if you don’t do your research and take the proper steps to protect yourself. Buying a home will be your biggest purchase, and a mistake can cost you precious time and thousands of dollars.

Before getting excited about starting your home search, sit down and review a list of the common mistakes first-time homebuyers make and how to avoid them. Although every first-time homebuyer’s situation is different, familiarize yourself with these common errors — and how to avoid them.

Not hiring a real estate agent

The biggest mistake first-time homebuyers make is considering buying a house without the help of an experienced realtor. You can certainly try, but you would likely make mistake after mistake, mainly since sellers are represented by agents and hold every advantage. The seller usually pays the agent’s commission, so don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re saving money by not working with a buyer’s agent.

The simplest way to avoid mistakes is to hire a knowledgeable real estate agent to help guide you through every step of the buying process. Your agent will assess your wish list and match you with available homes. Once you’ve found a home that fits your budget, your agent will assist with submitting an offer and then handling further negotiations. Finally, they will guide you through the closing process.

Not saving enough money

As eager as you are to shop for houses for sale in Allendale, you need to make sure you have enough money saved for the various expenses beyond the down payment and closing costs. The last thing you want is to exhaust all your savings and then not have enough money to furnish a new home and or money set aside in case of an emergency.

Costs you need to budget for include a homeowner’s insurance policy and property taxes. Additionally, there will be utility bills for electricity and water, hiring a mover if you can’t do the job yourself, homeowners association dues if you buy an Allendale condo, and the cost of any upgrades or repairs you think are necessary. It’s best to wait until you have enough money saved before jumping into the home buying process.

Not knowing your credit score

Another financial mistake first-time homebuyers make is not checking their credit score before shopping for a mortgage. If you have an unfavorable credit score, it can mean paying a higher interest rate for a loan and other unfavorable terms. Even if it delays your homebuying journey, take the time to get your credit score up and make sure you pay all your bills on time. Once you’ve gotten preapproval for a mortgage, maintain that excellent credit score.

Not getting a mortgage preapproval

Even though you have a wish list for homes for sale in Allendale and other Bergen County towns, don’t go shopping until you’ve received preapproval for a mortgage. If you make an offer without having financing locked in, it will be rejected, and you will have wasted your time and the seller’s time. Before you even start looking, shop around for mortgage rates and terms with a handful of lenders. If you are unsure who to contact regarding mortgage terms and rates, a seasoned agent can certainly give you two or three recommendations.

Once a banker has checked your financials and determined how big a loan you qualify for, ask for a preapproval letter. You can present it to a seller along with an offer, proving that your financing is solid and won’t fall through during closing. Be sure it’s a preapproval and not a prequalification, which is only an estimate of how much you can afford and is less legitimate.

Not researching special loan programs

As a first-time homebuyer, you might qualify for various loan programs that require a much smaller down payment than the traditional 20% of the sales price. There are various loan programs backed by federal government agencies, including Veterans Administration loans designed for veterans, active-duty military personnel, and spouses.


First-time homebuyers beginning their search for single-family homes in Allendale sometimes fail to stick to their budget. It can be easy for first-timers to fall in love with homes that are more expensive than they can afford.

To stay within your budget, you might have to refocus your search on smaller homes, different neighborhoods, or even consider a condo, which generally are more affordable than single-family homes. Remember, this is your first home, and you will be able to move up to a bigger space once you’ve built up equity.

Don’t waive a home inspection

Another mistake first-time homebuyers make when shopping for Bergen County homes, especially in a hot market, is to waive a home inspection to get their offer accepted. Traditionally, a home inspection ensures no significant problems exist in a property. A buyer protected by a home inspection contingency can back out of the deal if a big problem is discovered and the two sides can’t agree on how to resolve it. If a buyer rejects an offer that includes an inspection contingency, it’s best to walk away.

These are the major mistakes first-time homebuyers can make when purchasing a home. Avoid other pitfalls by hiring the right agent. When you’re ready to begin your search for homes for sale in Allendale and the surrounding Bergen County towns, let the seasoned pros at The Lopez Property Group put your mind at ease with their professionalism and unparalleled service.

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