o Not knowing enough about the house and its location. One regret expressed by 22 percent of homeowners in a 2013 survey by the real estate website Trulia is that they wished they had more information about their homes.
Some people buying homes in tight markets may try to beat competing offers by not requiring a home inspection, says Daisy Kong, a spokeswoman for Trulia. That means they may not discover problems until the sale is complete, she says. Home buyers who overlook these issues before signing could get stuck making expensive repairs and renovations they weren’t prepared for.
Other home buyers forget to research factors important to them, such as the quality of schools in the neighborhood, Kong says. Or they may not learn until closing that a crime was committed on the property, she says. Home buyers can avoid these surprises by making a list of the factors most important to them and asking about those things ahead of time, Kong says.
o Not buying a bigger house. This was the No. 1 regret listed by both NerdWallet and Trulia. Some buyers become so focused on specific neighborhoods that they miss good deals elsewhere, says Sarah Staley, a housing expert for Realtor.com. Branching out can increase your chances of finding a home with the space and features you need, such as a back yard, or number of bedrooms and bathrooms, Staley says.
o Not understanding financial details. About 41 percent of homeowners said they were unaware of all of their loan options, according to the NerdWallet survey. Among millennials, 19 percent of homeowners were surprised by how long it took to buy a house, according to the survey. About 15 percent said they were surprised by hidden fees.
The findings suggest some people do not do enough research about mortgages, fees and other costs of buying a home, Manni says. Some people may underestimate how much they should save to cover closing costs and other expenses, he says.
Buyers who don’t research their credit histories may miss a “black mark” on their credit reports that can lead to a higher mortgage rate, he says. Others may forget to compare mortgage lenders, and miss out on a better rate.
o Not giving a bigger down payment. About 18 percent of home buyers wish they had made a bigger down payment, according to the 2013 survey from Trulia, its most recent survey on the topic. Although a smaller down payment can get home buyers into a house sooner, it may lead to higher total cost. For example, some people can buy homes with as little as 3.5 percent of the purchase price down if they use a mortgage insured by the Federal Housing Administration. But because they are required to pay for mortgage insurance, they may end up paying more, Kong says.
Having a down payment of at least 20 percent can give you a better chance of snatching a home in a hot housing market, Staley says. Generally speaking, the larger the down payment, the lower the interest rate and monthly payment.
o Not saving enough in general. This extends beyond the down payment. Nine percent of homeowners said they did not feel as financially secure as they did before the purchase, according to NerdWallet. Some people were surprised by expenses they faced during the process, such as closing costs, Manni says. Others may be squeezed by other obligations, such as student-loan bills, Kong says.
Potential buyers can use online calculators to estimate monthly payments, Staley says. Families should also consider future expenses, she says. For example, young couples who want children should budget for child-care costs, Staley says.