First Person: Our Home Purchase Mistakes

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As they say, hindsight is 20/20, and nothing rings more true when it comes to our first home ownership experience. Looking back on it now, there are all sorts of things that I would do differently. I think that make a few major changes though that would have had a significant affect on the overall outcome of that first home experience.

If I had it to do all over again, these are the four things that I would definitely have done differently when it came to buying our home.


When we had our home on the market, we had several offers from people interested in renting to own. This was in 2010 when the market in many areas of Chicagoland was still falling. We turned down these offers since we didn't want to deal with renters and just wanted to be done with the home sale process. However, it served as an important lesson on how we should have bought our own home.

I really like the idea of having a year to get to know a home -- all it's little quirks and nuances -- and the area in which we would be living before actually buying a home. In this way we'd have the option -- after we got a feel for the place -- to go ahead and buy if we like it or back out with only the rent we'd paid and a few thousand dollars in earnest money on the line rather than a full downpayment, closing costs, and equity.

Real Estate Agent Selection

I'm fine with building a strong relationship with a real estate agent, as long as that relationship stays mostly business. Unfortunately, during our first home purchase, we went with an old family friend. This made it slightly harder to say no, give her feedback about what we didn't like, and just say "no" in general.

Focus More on Area, Less on Taxes

During our first home purchase, we focused a lot on property taxes. While I still think property tax rates are an important aspect of consideration when buying a home, I don't think it's necessarily the most important. In the process, we put too much weight on this area of home ownership -- finding lower property tax rates -- and let it push us toward a living location that didn't fit our personal wants and interests. This led to boredom, unhappiness, and our home not retaining its value as well as many areas with higher property taxes and more amenities.

Consider a Condo

I was totally against condo living at the time we were searching for our first home. While I still think that there are a variety of potential pitfalls regarding condo living (although we live in one now), I don't think all condo situations are bad.

Had I been more open to a condo arrangement, we might not only have been able to get our first home purchase option right, but we could have saved a lot of lost money on things like our previous home sale, lost equity, and moving, as well as avoid a lot of lost time, aggravation, and frustration.

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The author is not a licensed financial or real estate professional. The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, financial or real estate advice. Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader's discretion.


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