Top House-Hunting Mistakes

Mark Vandenbrink


Buying a home can be an emotional process, but try not to let your emotions run wild as you may become prey to a few house-hunting mistakes that could have huge consequences. Here are a few mistakes to avoid when looking at houses to buy, so that the process is one of excitement and joy and one where you can leave the big stresses at the door.

Falling in Love with a House You Cant Afford

This one seems like common sense, but it's a very easy mistake to make. You see a home, it's beautiful it has everything you ever imagined, and then you start dreaming of your life in that home, with the great neighbourhood or the huge lot, the expensive finishes, that master bathroom that is just like a spa. But you know you can't afford it and now how do you go back to looking at houses without that big bathroom, or the homes without that beautiful lot or expensive finishes? It’s going to be difficult, emotionally. So, the easiest way to avoid this is to make sure you are looking at homes in your price range, and leave those bigger, more expensive homes to a few years down the road. They don't have to be out of the picture forever, but maybe just for now. Always start looking in the lower end of your price range, you might find what you’re looking for, with just a few minor upgrades you can make yourself, using the money you saved on the house.

Assuming There Is Nothing Better Out There

There are always more homes like the one you might have your eye on, so don't be afraid to look at others. Sometimes you see your list of must-haves and think you might never find another home like the one you just saw, but there are major issues with the home or a big must-have that isn't checked off. It’s best to be open to looking at other homes than to make a huge sacrifice. Most neighbourhoods are built by the same builder, so floor plans and sizes are almost identical and you never know you might find that another home has even more to offer than that one you saw today.

Being Desperate

If you’ve been looking at houses for a long time or getting outbid for multiple homes, you might just want to get into a house-any house-now. But that can be a costly mistake, not only financially. You won't want to make a rash decision where you don't love the house you’re buying, you’ll end up regretting your decision and have to live in a home that isn't what you wanted at all. Although it may be difficult, try to stay calm, and remember that houses come up on the market all the time and your dream house might be listed in just a week or two from now and you’ll be glad you didn't just buy a house to have a house.

Overlooking Important Flaws

This one is easy to make and is done all of the time. It’s easy to overlook a flaw when its something that you really like, but you need to be able to take a step back and think rationally about whether those flaws will be able to be fixed or not, or how much time and money you will have to invest in order to fix them. Is it really worth it? Most of the time it isn’t.

Overestimating Your Handy Man Skills

A lot of people think buying a fixer-upper would be a lot of fun and means you can have exactly what you want out of a house. However, you need to honestly think of whether you can handle all of the repairs that need to be done in terms of time, money and ability. If you overestimate your abilities and realize once you get started that you cannot handle it, you have to factor in that labour will cost double and may need to replace repairs that you have already made.

Rushing to Put in an Offer

This one sounds a little hypocritical, as you don't want to rush but you also don't want to waste any time. However, you also want to make sure that you have thought of everything when considering if the home is right for you, do you like the neighbourhood during the day and during the night? How close by are the schools for your kids? Is the train close by going to be loud and bothersome? When trying to make a quick decision, take an extra few mins to consider the location, the feel of the neighbourhood and amenities nearby.

Dragging Your Feet

It can be difficult to balance making a careful decision and not taking too much time to make it. The old saying time is money is true when it comes to house hunting, it can end up taking a lot of time to go and view homes. But even more so, finding the perfect home and someone beating you to the sale can be devastating. So try not to take too much time when deciding on a house, so that you don't miss out on that dream home.

Offering Too Much

When there is a lot of competition going on, like in this market it's easy to think that a higher offer is the way to go, but you might then be entering into a bidding war. Also, if the house doesn't appraise at that high price your bank might not give you a loan of that amount, you want to make sure your offer price is reasonable for what the house is actually worth and for the neighbourhood it is in.

Bottom Line

Although buying a house can be a very emotional endeavour try not to make your decisions based on your emotions as difficult as that may be. However, if you can take a step back and look at the situation in a more rational light, you can avoid these common pitfalls of emotional decision making, and avoid the potentially costly mistakes listed above. Buying a home is a big deal and you want to be happy with your decision, after all this is the place you'll call home.


Mark VandenBrink is an award-winning Century 21 Real Estate Professional and someone who believes in helping others reach their dreams of home ownership.

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