Whether it’s your first time or your fifth time, house hunting can be overwhelming. A commitment this significant makes it easy to get intimidated into taking shortcuts or making rash decisions.

But knowledge is key to preventing this experience from turning negative. Let’s get you prepared for a successful house hunting experience by exploring the top six house hunting mistakes you don’t want to make — and how to avoid them.

Mistake #1: Not Having a Budget in Place

Unaware of what you can afford is one of the biggest mistakes when searching for your dream home. Nevertheless, it’s one of the first questions your realtor will ask you, so ensure you have an answer.

Knowing your budget in advance helps narrow down the search options and gives your realtor a baseline to work with. This saves you both time as you won’t be looking at homes well out of your price range. This also saves you the disappointment of not being able to afford homes you may otherwise fall in love with.

Once you set a budget, start searching for homes at the lower end of your price range. If you find a house you’re happy with, don’t go any higher. Spending an additional $15,000, for example, could end up doubling, if not more, over the lifetime of your loan. You could better spend this money elsewhere, so set your budget and stick to it.

Mistake #2: Turning a Blind Eye to Flaws

It’s unlikely that you’ll find a home that’s 100% free of flaws, and it’s always good to be open to what a reno or two could do to a home. However, it’s easy to get caught up in the possibilities once you start re-imagining what the entire house could look like after some work. And with that imagination comes a lot of time, money, and skill.

When you fall in love with a home, be realistic about its flaws and what it’ll take to bring it to your satisfaction. Think about how much DIY you can do versus hiring a professional, the cost involved, and how much time you have for repairs. Turning a blind eye to flaws can end up costing you more time, money, sacrifice, and commitment than you’re willing to give up.

Mistake #3: Not Getting Your Mortgage Pre-Approved

Most sellers won’t even look at buyers who haven’t been pre-approved for their mortgage. Not being pre-approved shows you’re not that serious about buying the home and doesn’t guarantee that you’ll even be able to afford it, so most will consider it a waste of time and energy.

Not to mention the disappointment you risk for yourself. What you think you can afford and what the bank says you can afford are often two very different things — especially if you have an unstable employment history or bad credit.

Save yourself the heartache and get pre-approved before looking at homes you may otherwise be turned down for. Once you’re pre-approved, don’t do anything that may alter your credit score, such as buying a vehicle or skipping out on other payments. This can cause the loan to fall through, even with the pre-approval.

Mistake #4: Choosing the Wrong Agent

When searching for the perfect house, it’s crucial to partner with a local, trusted agent who listens to your wants and needs and looks out for your best interest. Your realtor should know your area of interest well, have years of qualified experience (with success stories to back it up), and be open and transparent about their processes.

Avoid choosing the wrong agent by asking the right questions before committing. Ask as many questions as it takes until you feel confident in their abilities and that your personalities mesh well. Anything from how long they’ve been in real estate to how they communicate with their clients and how often is fair game.

Mistake #5: Skipping the House Inspection

You found the perfect home, and the seller accepted your offer. Great, you’re finally a homeowner! But hold on, you skipped the house inspection. Don’t even think about closing that sale before you know the condition of the house behind the scenes. A house full of unforeseen costly repairs that you could’ve avoided if you had the house inspected is the last thing you want. Additionally, some mortgage lenders require a thorough inspection of the property as part of your approval process, making it impossible to skip.

Mistake #6: Not Researching the Neighborhood

It’s one thing to fall in love with the inside of a home, but what about the neighbourhood surrounding it? Many outside factors could quickly turn your dream home into a nightmare. Before you commit to any home, take a drive around the neighbourhood and look for things like:

  • How close is the nearest daycare, school, grocery store, or bus stop? Look for any amenities that are essential to you and your family
  • Who lives nearby? Do they seem quiet and respectful, or are they more loud and obnoxious? You may need to drive by at different times of the day to get a feel for whose around
  • How busy is the area? Is it noisy? Are there trains nearby? Is the street a popular shortcut during rush hour?
  • Is there undeveloped land nearby that may become commercialized?

Ready for a Successful House Hunting Adventure?

The better prepared you are, the more successful your search will be — especially when you partner with someone who goes above and beyond to welcome you home.

Joel Cooper has been specializing in finding affordable dream homes for over 14 years. His transparent, client-centred approach focuses solely on your needs and what’s best for you and your family.

Making a home-purchasing decision that works for both your feelings and your wallet starts with working with a trusted, experienced realtor. So if you’re looking for a home in Toronto or the GTA, send Joel a message. He’d love to hear from you!

Talk to Joel

Hi, I’m Joel, a real estate professional based in Toronto.

My approach is simple—I put you first. I believe in open communication, total transparency, and meaningful results. I’ll guide you through the real estate process, market values, and always keep the focus on you—and your needs.