Thinking about buying a home? You’ve probably received a lot of advice already about what mistakes to avoid in the process. Everybody will tell you to take your commute into consideration. They’ll say, “Take a drive around the neighborhood to be sure you like it.” You’ll be told to learn about the school districts, and warned to get a good home inspection.
But there are other, really important mistakes to avoid when buying a home. And many people won’t share them because they don’t know them. I’m here to give you some helpful advice!
The following rules apply no matter if you are just starting your home search or are under contract and waiting for closing.
(Tip ‘o the hat to Wendi Milinkov of First Integrity Title for their “Ten Commandments of Buying a Home”.)
- Don’t quit your day job. Or change jobs. Or become self-employed. No matter how wonderful and important and liberating such a change might be for you, it makes lenders and sellers nervous beyond description.
- Don’t buy a new car, boat, RV, or other vehicle. Adding a debt of this size is bound to change your debt-to-income ratio in an unfavorable way. When that happens, you negatively affect your ability to get preapproved. You also reduce the size of the mortgage for which you can qualify.
- Don’t lose track of your credit card usage, balances, and payment due dates. Credit-fueled spending sprees and missed payments are no bueno when lenders are looking at your finances and deciding if they want to give you a mortgage.
- Don’t raid the money you have set aside for closing. Is it possible to have the seller pay your closing costs? Yes. But not always. If you assume you’ll have to cover closing costs, you won’t be caught short. And if the seller does pay them for you? Lucky you! You’ll have a nice chunk of change to make an extra mortgage payment or maybe splurge on some new furniture or appliances.
- Don’t leave out any debts or liabilities on your loan application. There’s this thing called the Internet, and it knows everything about you. The bank *will* look, and if they *will* find anything you neglected to mention. And that is not going to make them want to lend you money.
- Don’t buy new furniture, appliances, or home decor before closing. I don’t want to rain on your parade. But it’s possible something will go kerflooey and all of a sudden your closing isn’t going to happen. That’s the worst-case scenario. More likely is that you’ll buy a sofa or fridge that turns out to be way too big for the space…and then you’re stuck. Not to mention, you’re probably buying these things with credit, just like I advised not to do in #3 and #4 above.
- Don’t open any NEW credit cards, and don’t let anyone run your credit report unless absolutely necessary. This goes along with #5 above. Basically, you don’t want to give a lender the mistaken impression that you’re eager to increase your debt-to-income ratio.
- Don’t make large deposits in your bank account without checking with your loan officer. Lenders and underwriters want and need a paper trail for EVERYTHING. They don’t want you borrowing money for the down payment at the last minute or coming up with money out of thin air. So if you’re planning on using funds from another account, just make sure to talk to your lender first so they know the story and can have you supply the appropriate documentation.
- Don’t change bank accounts. It seems pretty obvious, but I’m going to say it anyway. Any changes in your finances — even something that seems harmless like changing banks — makes the lender types nervous.
- Don’t co-sign on a loan or credit card for anyone else before closing. If that person defaults, their debt becomes your debt…with all that implies. In fact, for the health of your finances and relationships, it may be worthwhile keeping this rule all the time (and not only when you’re buying a home).