Don’t Get Catfished This Valentine’s- 6 Cat-Traps That Snare First-Time Buyers

Don’t Get Cat Fished!

Common Mistakes Buyers Should Not Make

Having an advocate by your side is an invaluable resource in your Brooklyn real estate search, since it can be easy to miss something when you don’t have a seasoned professional by your side. Even in the Google era, online savvy can’t replace agent experience (15 years in our case) in the field. Much of what you’ll see on the internet is real but it’s the small percentage that’s deliberately misleading you should watch out for.  Scams and fake ads are easy enough to spot but avoiding unnecessary mistakes takes the guidance of a broker. Remember, an experienced agent  has a fiduciary responsibility to you and will do everything they can to prevent you from making emotional and financial mistakes during your real estate matchmaking adventure.

Real Estate Catfish Red Flags:

  • You’ve been asked to not involve a lawyer or broker
  • They asked you for a check or cash—your lawyer should be handling all your funds
  • The deal seems too good to be true
  • You’re met out front of the building and can’t get in till you have a contract
  • They discourage you from doing an inspection 
  • They claim to be working for the prince of some country you have never heard of or on behalf of a mysterious foreign figure

Make sure you take heed when entering into a contract and  do a little digging around before you waste your time, money and energy. So flex your Google muscle and do  research on the building,  seller, your broker and theirs (there should be two).

DON’T: The internet is beautiful and swiping is fun—it’s a trap!

Swiping intensely on StreetEasy, Zillow and Trulia is a fun game for most but your decision-making ability could end up compromised and and  your perspective skewed. Before getting sucked into a swiping frenzy, ask yourself important questions that have little to do with aesthetics and a lot do with real factors in the search process:

  • How much am I willing to spend a month to own?
  • What am I willing to sacrifice to own instead of rent?
  • Am I staying in NYC for at least 5 years? 
  • What criteria is most important to my quality of life? Then get qualified for a loan and let the swiping begin.

DON’T: Walk into DWELL magazine IRL and fall in love

Do not let aesthetics override pragmatism. You walk in and dream of living in this staged beauty with all its refinery and Design Within Reach accouterments. Just know you will never live like this unless you yourself work in the design industry or have a cleaning person come over twice a week. Buying nice things can get expensive and life can get pretty crazy. Before you know it you will have piles of clothing or books or take-out containers floating around the living space you might have overpaid for.

You might see a space that creates a vision of the perfect life you wish to have when instead you should imagine your things, your habits, and your real lifestyle in this space. Visualize your day-to-day life and think about the location, finishes, and amenities. What will add to your quality of life or take away? Is it a short walk to the subway? Slightly bigger than your last place? Less expensive? Does it have that washer/dryer you so desperately wanted? The most important consideration is what you really need in a home long term? Pretty is nice but, you know, looks fade. 

DO: Figure out your financing

Before you start the mental math, calculating 20% down into your purchase amount, touring the internet or attending open houses, you need to call a mortgage broker. You will need one regardless so there is no need in disappointing yourself by overestimating your buying power. This should always be your step #1. A mortgage broker will ask you a couple of basic questions and give you an idea of what you could qualify for. You should also make sure to interview a few mortgage brokers before settling. They’re most likely to all offer different products but they also will have different styles of communicating and working with their clients.

You want to pick someone who makes you feel comfortable and protected and educates you about the process. So before you jump the gun get your bearings and start doing the unfun part of  interviewing mortgage brokers and figuring out your price point. Then you can hit the ground running. 

DO: Get an inspection but get one from someone that explains it all to you

Inspections are a necessity when getting ready to purchase a property and who you  get it from can make a big difference. You want an inspector that not only tells you what is wrong in your space but also what is right. They should explain how the systems on your property work and how to maintain them for longevity. Being armed with this valuable information will aid you in correctly caring for your space and in the long run prevent you from making costly mistakes. We work with several home inspectors but one of our favorites is Rich Perri, of Professional Home Inspections. He does a good job also of comparing new and old constriction as every property has its pitfalls you just have to decide which you want to sign up for.

DON’T: Let emotions drive your process

We try to prepare clients for the emotional rollercoaster that is the home buying process. Ultimately this is a hard one to avoid. So how can you avoid making emotional decisions? You can make some predetermined rules for yourself and stick to them and of course have outside guidance  and experts to keep you on track and out of your own head. Some people also like to use a method called the revolving door approach which relies on you creating an outsider’s perspective. This helps you have an objective mode of judgement if that is something you can truly do when buying a home.

DO: Develop some down-payment strategies

Don’t get stuck in the idea that you need to raise your down payment money by putting money in a savings account each month—although it’s a good place to start. When I bought my house I sold a car and some jewelry to find the extra cash. You can also borrow against your 401k or other things like; SEP, ROTH, IRA, get gift (or loan) money from family or friends or even consider putting down less, like 10-15%. There are ways to overcome scraping together that down payment you just need to get creative and be willing to take a little risk sometime. 

You have now been armed with some basic ideas to consider when beginning the journey of home-ownership. We cannot stress enough the value of working with a buyers agent. Interview people for the job, make sure you like their communication style and that you like and trust them. It’s the buyer agent’s duty to supply you with a deep knowledge base that the internet can not provide.

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