Don't Make These 7 Costly Mistakes When Online Home Shopping

By Jessica Brita-Segyde on June, 8 2018
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Jessica Brita-Segyde

There's nothing worse than making a major purchase only to regret it later. Your home may be the biggest investment you ever make and buying the wrong one could result in disappointment and the expense of re-listing your property. Financial education website Investopedia reported that “buyer’s remorse” is one of the top five fears that homeowners face.

With online home shopping on the rise, buyers have a whole new set of challenges. Our home buying experts at Ruoff Home Mortgage are here to help! We’ve assessed seven of the most common mistakes that online home buyers make. Here’s what you can do to avoid buying the wrong house:

Don't Sign a Contract Based on Images Alone

Go see the property before you sign. Realtors are expert photographers and it’s their job to make their product look its best. Photos alone don’t always tell the whole story about a product.

A real, live showing is the only way to know exactly what you’re buying – how it looks, feels, and smells up close. If you’re relocating and must shop from another city, send a proxy. The best house-hunting proxy is your own Realtor.

Do Enlist the Help of an Expert Before You Make an Offer

The seller likely has his or her own Realtor, and so should you. The fees that you and the seller pay are almost always the same regardless of whether the buyer brings his or her own representation to the table. Your Realtor doesn’t have to surf the internet for you, but he or she will become invaluable once the price negotiation starts.

The moral of the story: hire your own Realtor. If you don’t, you’re relying on the seller’s representative to do your bidding for you.

Don't Put too Many Restrictions on Your Search

There are lots of homebuying websites out there. Only surfing one limits your scope. Visit several websites. Similarly, putting the same filters on for every search can omit properties of interest.

Purchasing a home is one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make. Don’t rush – slow down and give yourself time to see what’s out there.

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Don't Wait Forever for the "Perfect" Home

Some buyers refuse to jump in for fear of buyer’s remorse. They’re concerned about making the wrong choice and get caught-up in the allure of waiting for their “perfect” home to enter the market. There will always be new homes coming into the market. That doesn’t mean you should wait for the perfect one or you could be waiting forever.

Prioritize what you'd like most out of your new home. It's nearly impossible to find a home that will check all of the boxes off your checklist.  Keep perspective. Those items towards the top of your list should hold more weight then those near the bottom.

Do Get Pre-Approved Before You Search, Even if You're Shopping Online

Searching above or below your price range can be a big waste of time and result in disappointment. Get pre-approved before you shop. Get Pre-Approved Today!

Don't Waste Time on Fake Listings

Sadly, there are scammers out there who put up fake listings. Their goal isn’t necessarily to get your money, they’re actually taking money from advertisers. Don’t waste time perusing a listing if it seems too good to be true, or if the photos don’t match the descriptions.

If you’re not sure whether a listing is the real deal, consult your Realtor. Experienced real estate professionals have the tools and background to help them sniff out the fakes.

Do Recognize that Home Valuation Sites are Not the Same as a Real Appraisal

Home valuation websites like Trulia and Zillow are a good place to start, but their algorithms don’t always produce an accurate appraisal. When it comes to determining the value of a home, and subsequently making an offer, nothing beats the tried-and-true method of onsite real estate appraisal.

An experienced appraiser considers more than the physical aspects of a home. He or she may also consider curb appeal, recent updates, proximity to commerce, and neighborhood amenities.

The best advice for online homebuyers is to align with a Realtor and mortgage company with experience. Savvy Realtors and Loan Originators may even be able to introduce you to online shopping options you haven’t tried yet. Enlist the help of real estate professionals. Your Realtor and loan team will work together to make sure you’re paying the right price for your home.