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Whether you’re purchasing your first home or your third home, there are several mistakes that can cause serious trouble with your purchase. Avoid the following missteps to help smooth the searching and buying process.

1. Not using an agent
.  Many people try to cut costs when looking for a new home. However, a real estate agent is a professional, skilled at searching and price negotiating. They also have access to the MLS, and know the area you’re trying to buy in. “The money you spend on hiring an agent will come back to you, both in the form of a more pleasant buying experience, and in landing a better price,” says Todd Hetherington, CEO of Century 21 New Millennium.

Property inspections will provide you with piece of mind about your potential new home.

2. Not getting a property inspection.  “It’s vital that you insist on having your future home inspected by a professional before you close,” says Hetherington. It may look like it’s in top shape, but a visit from a qualified home inspector can give you peace of mind that the basement isn’t full of mold, or that the roof isn’t in need of replacement.

“You home inspection will help with negotiations, as well,” states Hetherington.

3. Not getting pre-approved for a mortgage.  This is a waste of your time, your agent’s time, and the seller’s time. “Most agent’s won’t work with a client who has not been pre-approved, and sellers will be wary, too,” explains Hetherington.

Even if you have perfect credit and think getting pre-approved will be a cinch, doing this first will save you the hassle later, and show sellers that you’re serious.

4. Visiting properties you can’t afford.  If your dream home isn’t currently in your budget, then you can do two of the following: Continue renting until you are in a better financial situation, or focus on your perfect starter home. Sure, it may not have that wrap-around porch or artist’s loft, but a home is a great investment.

“Pick a place you will be happy living in for the next five to 10 years, but do not visit homes you can’t afford,” says Hetherington. “Not only is this a waste of time for everyone involved, you will also break your own heart when you fall in love with a property out of your reach.”

5. Not assessing wants vs. needs.  Similar to visiting homes you can’t afford, not adequately assessing wants and needs can be a waste of time, and prove to pull up properties out of your budget. You may need a place near a good school system, or that provides a quick commute. You may need a place with an extra bedroom for in-laws or future children. But do you need a fully renovated basement?

“Sit down with your family and figure out what is essential, and what would be a terrific extra,” recommends Hetherington. Let your agent know, and then start your hunt.

6. Searching before you’re ready.  Just like you shouldn’t search before you’re pre-approved for a mortgage, you also shouldn’t search if you aren’t seriously ready to buy. Banking on that raise you’re getting next month? Hold off on the home search.

7. Not reading the fine print.  This is where your agent can help you. Be sure to read and understand all documents before signing, even if your excitement—or a looming deadline—is pushing your pen to paper.

“Understand everything you have read, including all contingencies and fine print,” says Hetherington. “Then, sign away with confidence.”

For more information on buying a home, please contact Century 21 New Millennium at, 800-382-1101, or Century 21 New Millennium.

CENTURY 21 New Millennium. Smarter. Bolder. Faster. CENTURY 21 New Millennium,, is a full service real estate brokerage company specializing in residential and luxury properties. In addition to its newest Washington D.C. location, the Virginia locations are in Alexandria, Centreville, Culpeper, Fredericksburg, Gainesville, McLean, Stafford, and Woodbridge. The Maryland offices are located in Annapolis, Columbia, Dunkirk, La Plata, Lexington Park, Lusby and Waldorf. Its core services include: mortgage financing, investing, settlement services, property management, property insurance, global relocation assistance, and commercial real estate.

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