If you were considering buying the property shown above, you’re out of luck. The buyers of my spectacular listing, a Taste of European Modernist Design in Birnam Wood, did everything a buyer should do to be rewarded with the right home, and at the right price. In other words, they avoided the most common home buying mistakes.
By the way, I was honored to have the sellers turn to me when it came time to sell their beautiful home, which was designed by acclaimed Santa Barbara architect Jack Warner. Don’t worry about missing this opportunity though. I have more luxury homes in the area to show you, listed on my comprehensive website. But it takes a lot more than just looking online to get to escrow.
If you’re a buyer moving in, or to, Montecito or Santa Barbara, here are the 10 most common home buying mistakes to avoid:
- Assuming the Price is Negotiable
When sellers use a reputable agent like me, their home is most likely priced right, using extensive local market knowledge and the latest tools available. Agents do the research to set an accurate price from the start. Even with all that work going into setting the right price, many buyers lose the first couple of properties they make an offer on because they’ve underbid when the home is priced to sell. Talk to your realtor about the price before underbidding.
- Ignoring the Quality of the Home
Most buyers go with what they feel when they determine which home to buy. Many times, that means they ignore the important details in a home. Think bones and potential and instead of getting blown away by a home’s flashy details. For instance, find out if the electric is up to code. Not only could this be a fire hazard, but it could also be costly to repair. Other important considerations include the condition of the roof, the hot water tank, the HVAC system and more.
- Making a Lowball Offer
One big common home buying mistake is to make an offer so low that it offends a seller. Even if the offer is all cash. Cash may be king, but it doesn’t always rule when it comes to buying a home. I’ve seen potential buyers lose out on their dream home just by making a lowball offer. If the home you want is well-priced, in a good neighborhood and doesn’t need much work, the best strategy is to make a solid offer and be prepared to go over asking if necessary.
- Limiting Your Search to a Specific Style
Montecito and Santa Barbara are known for the white stucco, red tile roofs and wrought-iron detailing of Spanish-style architecture. But that isn’t the only design style we enjoy here. From Spanish Colonial Revival homes and Victorian and Craftsman beauties, to mid-century modern and contemporary residences, Santa Barbara’s distinctive architecture is vast. You can even find homes like the Magical Cape Cod Estate in Montecito pictured above. The bottom line: don’t miss out on a great opportunity just because it isn’t the exact style you want.
- Making an offer, then requesting credits.
Don’t expect to get the price down after making an offer. The real estate market continues heating up, especially here in Montecito and Santa Barbara, where luxury properties are often selling for more than asking price. I’ve seen some buyers win the bidding war by offering more than asking, then trying to negotiate the price down by requesting credits during escrow. What I suggest instead is to simply make your best offer from the beginning. It’s a common home buying mistake to assume you can negotiate it down later.
- Waiting until the last minute to request credits.
There’s no question that a buyer should ask for credits if an inspection reveals the need for costly repairs that were not revealed when the original offer was made. But, don’t assume you can get sellers to cave in when it comes to excessive demands at the last minute — even in a buyer’s market.
- Forgoing an inspection
Sure, most people know they should get an inspection on a home they’re buying. After all, a home inspection is an all-encompassing examination of the condition of a home; covering features such as electrical wiring, plumbing, roofing, insulation, as well as structural features. It may unveil issues that are not noticeable to the buyer’s eye. Even if you think you’ve found a “dream home,” it’s a home inspector’s responsibility to let you know that your “dream home” may not be as perfect as it appears to be.
- Short-sighted thinking
Think like a potential seller as well as a buyer. There will most likely come a time when you’ll want to sell the Santa Barbara home you’re buying. The last thing you want is to purchase a home that’s hard to sell. My discerning buyers in Montecito and Santa Barbara can rest in the knowledge that our location is one of the most sought-after coastal spots in the world. That’s why I often tell my clients to buy location, not price.
- Waiting for Perfection
The perfect home doesn’t exist. If you find a place that checks seven of the 10 boxes you’re looking for, you should take it. Also, don’t become obsessed about that one listing you saw online and compare it to homes you see in person. Online listings can sometimes portray a rather idealistic picture of a home. Allow your agent to show you all your options.
- Trying to do it yourself.
Get real: You can’t buy Santa Barbara homes and get the best deal, competent contract creation, etc. without the expertise of a professional real estate agent. Many tech-savvy buyers think they can buy a home without assistance. This strategy can backfire big time. A knowledgeable agent knows the market better than an uninformed buyer. Just let the experts share their expertise, experience and contacts.
Representing the highest level of clientele and specializing in the sale and acquisition of extraordinary estates and land in Montecito, Santa Barbara and Hope Ranch, I urge all buyers to start their home buying process by finding the right agent. That way, they can easily avoid these 10 common homebuying mistakes. In Montecito and Santa Barbara, that agent is me. So, give me a call at (805) 886-9378 or email me at Cristal@montecito-estate.com with any questions or concerns. And be sure to check out my extensive portfolio of listings to see what’s on the market today.