I Bought My First Home 2 Years Ago. Here Are 4 Rookie Mistakes I Made

by Natasha Gabrielle | Published on Sept. 19, 2021

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Four adults, including one using a wheelchair, gasp in delight at their new home surrounded by moving boxes.

Image source: Getty Images

I was new to homeownership, and I made some mistakes. I've learned from my errors.

Buying a home is a life-changing decision. My husband and I bought our first home two years ago. Now that I'm reflecting on the experience, some of our rookie mistakes are glaringly obvious to me. If I could go back and redo some things, I would. If you're considering buying your first home, keep reading to learn from our home-buying mistakes.

1. Letting emotions get in the way

I think this is a mistake many homebuyers make, whether it's their first purchasing experience or not. My husband and I looked at many homes during our search. We fell in love with several homes we toured. I know we overbid with some of our offers because we let our emotions get in the way. We were set on the idea of moving into each of the homes we loved, and were upset when the sellers didn't accept our offers.

Before you talk to top mortgage lenders or work with realtors, ensure you don't allow your emotions to take charge of the decision-making. There's always another home out there, even if the search takes a lot longer than you anticipated. When we buy a home in the future, I'll keep this in mind. Getting too attached to homes causes stress and frustration, which can result in spending too much.

2. Not considering property tax assessments

When my husband and I purchased our current home, the previous owners had done a significant amount of remodeling. Because of this, the house was worth more, and sold for a much higher price than they had paid.

The property had last been assessed several years before. We knew we'd pay more than the old value for our home, but we didn't consider the need for a new property assessment. A new assessment would impact our annual school and property taxes.

Within a year of our closing, a new property assessment was done. Luckily, we purchased an affordable home, and the new yearly tax didn't hurt us too badly. But we're now paying about $120 more per month than we had initially planned to. While it's a relatively small amount of money, it's still something we should have considered before buying.

3. Not considering the true cost of homeownership

Homeownership can be expensive. You not only have the upfront costs of buying a home, you also have mortgage payments, tax, home insurance, and utility costs each year. On top of those expenses, you're responsible for the cost of maintenance and repairs. Looking back, I was naive to think we wouldn't have to spend money on these costs soon after buying.

For example, we had a home inspection. During the inspection, our furnace was functional. We knew it was an older system, but it was working before we closed in July. In early October, we found out that we needed to replace our furnace. We hadn't planned to spend a few thousand dollars on that expense within three months of closing. Had we fully understood the true cost of homeownership, we may have set aside more money in advance.

4. Forgetting to budget additional homeowner purchases

Before buying our first home, my husband and I had spent nearly a decade renting. That's a long time living the carefree lifestyle of a renter. We didn't have to worry about yardwork or maintenance in every home that we rented. Because of this, all we owned was a couple of small toolboxes.

Becoming homeowners required us to buy much more. All of those purchases add up. Here are some examples of items we needed:

  1. Lawn tools and lawn equipment
  2. Household tools
  3. A ladder
  4. A dehumidifier
  5. Outdoor patio furniture
  6. Additional household furniture

I wish I had saved more cash for these purchases. Instead of having plenty of extra funds set aside and comfortably buying everything right away, we bought a few things each month. We spread out our purchases over the first year of homeownership.

I knew we'd need to buy some new furniture and other essentials, but I didn't consider how quickly those expenses would add up. In the future, if I buy again, I'll make sure I have plenty of savings before we close on a home.

It's easy to make mistakes as a first-time homebuyer. But you can go into the process more informed so that you minimize your mistakes. With care and good planning, you can find a home that is right for you and make smart financial decisions during the buying process.

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