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  • Writer's pictureTeam Pinto

Waterloo Region House-Hunting Mistakes to Avoid in 2024 (and Beyond)



The Waterloo Region's real estate market is vibrant and dynamic, offering a wealth of options for homebuyers. However, navigating this landscape requires careful consideration and avoiding common pitfalls.


As experienced Waterloo Region real estate brokers, we've witnessed these missteps first-hand. Here's our guide to sidestepping common house-hunting mistakes and finding your dream home with confidence:


Skipping Pre-Approval


Before you start house-hunting, get pre-approved for a mortgage. This isn't just a formality; it's a crucial step that shows sellers you're a serious buyer, capable of securing financing. Plus, it empowers you with a realistic budget, ensuring you're not wasting time on homes out of your price range.


Focusing Solely on Online Listings


While online listings provide a convenient starting point, don't rely on them exclusively. Many hidden gems never make it to the online sphere. Team Pinto has access to a wide network and up-to-the-minute MLS data, allowing us to uncover pocket listings and upcoming opportunities that might be the perfect fit for you.


Lacking Vision




Sometimes a homebuyer can feel like Goldilocks in the three bears’ house: This is too big, this is too small. Distinguishing between what’s fixable and what’s not is a key part of house-hunting.


Even if you can’t afford to replace that hideous wallpaper in the bathroom right now, it might be worth it to live with the ugliness for a little while in exchange for getting into a house you can afford.


If the home otherwise meets your needs in terms of the big things that are difficult to change, such as location and size, don’t let smaller physical imperfections turn you away.


Overlooking Important Flaws


It’s OK to look for homes whose full potential has yet to be realized, especially if you’re on a strict budget. The bump in equity from your upgrades will help you to move up the property ladder.


That being said, if you’re going to buy a house that needs work, don’t buy a fixer-upper that’s more than you can handle in terms of time, money, or your own ability.


For example, if you think you can do the work yourself but then realize you can’t once you get started, any repairs or upgrades you were planning to make will probably cost twice as much once you factor in the labour—and that may not be in your budget.

Not to mention the costs involved to fix anything you may have started and can't finish, including replacing materials you wasted.


Honestly evaluate your DIY abilities, your budget, and how soon you need to move before purchasing a property that isn’t move-in ready.


Ignoring the Neighbourhood




Don’t just focus on the house—look at the surrounding area. Of course, it’s impossible to perfectly predict the future of your chosen neighbourhood, of course, but inquiring about or researching its prospects now can help you avoid unpleasant surprises down the road.


Some questions you should ask include:


  • What kind of development plans are in the works for the neighbourhood?

  • Is the street likely to become a major street or a popular rush-hour shortcut?

  • Is there talk of a bridge or a highway to be built very nearby in five years? What are the zoning laws in the area?

  • Is there a lot of undeveloped land around?

  • What is likely to get built there?

  • Have home values in the neighbourhood been declining or rising?


If you’re happy with the answers to these questions, then your potential house’s location can keep its rose-coloured lustre.


Local Note: The Waterloo Region encompasses more than just Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambridge. Explore charming towns like New Hamburg, Elmira, or St. Jacobs! These communities often offer more affordable homes, unique character, and a slower pace of life.


Rushing to Put in an Offer


In an active real estate market, it may be necessary to make an offer fast if you find a home you like. However, you have to balance the need to make a quick decision with the need to make sure the home will be right for you.


Don’t neglect important steps, such as making sure the neighbourhood feels safe at night as well by day (try to visit at different times), and investigating possible noise issues like a nearby busy highway.


Ideally, you’ll be able to take at least a night to sleep on the decision. How well you sleep that night and how you feel about the home in the morning will tell you a lot about whether the decision you’re about to make is the right one. Taking the time to consider the decision also gives you a chance to research how much the property is really worth and offer an appropriate price.


Dragging Your Feet


It’s a tough balancing act to make sure you make a careful decision, but don’t take too long to make it. Losing out on a property that you were almost ready to make an offer on because someone beat you to it can be heartbreaking. It can also have economic consequences.


Let’s say you are self-employed. Perhaps for you, more than others, time is money. The more time and energy you have to take out of your normal activities to search for a house, the less time and energy you have available to work. Not dragging out the home-buying process unnecessarily may be the best thing for your business, and the continued success of your business will be essential to paying the mortgage.


If you don’t pull the trigger quickly, someone else might, and you’ll have to keep looking. Don’t underestimate how time-consuming and routine-disrupting house shopping can be.


Neglecting to Inspect




You found the perfect place, your offer was accepted, and you’re in contract. It’s tempting to think that you’re a homeowner the moment you go into escrow, but hold on. Before you close on the sale, you need to know what kind of shape the house is in. You don’t want to get stuck with a money pit or with the headache of performing a lot of unexpected (and potentially expensive) repairs.


That’s why you need a thorough inspection of the property—in fact, your mortgage lender might demand it. Keeping your feelings in check until you have a full picture of the house’s physical condition and the soundness of your potential investment will help you avoid making a serious financial mistake.


Getting Desperate


When you’ve been looking for a while and do not see anything you like—or worse, you’re getting outbid on the houses you do want—it’s easy to get desperate to find your new house RIGHT NOW.


However, if you move into a home you end up hating, the transaction costs to get rid of it will be costly. You’ll have to pay an agent’s commission (up to 5% to 6% of the sale price), and you’ll have to pay closing costs for the mortgage on your new house. You’ll also have to deal with the hassle and expense of moving yet again.


If you have time on your side, it’s okay to wait until something that suits you comes along. As long as your demands are realistic for your budget, you are bound to find something you can live with.


The Bottom Line


Buying a house is a big decision, but it does not have to be difficult. However, since it’s so natural for emotions to come into play, you need to ensure you are making rational choices rather than getting wrapped up in the notion of a dream home—or, conversely, of yourself as a master builder or renovator. If you’re aware of the issues ahead of time, you can protect yourself from costly mistakes and shop with confidence.


In short, when it comes to buying a new home, be realistic, take your time, don’t act on impulse, and, ultimately, make a home-purchase decision that’s good for both your feelings and your finances.


Team Pinto: Your Waterloo Region Advantage




At Team Pinto, we've honed our expertise in the local market over the years. We know the neighbourhoods, understand the trends, and have a proven track record of helping buyers find their dream homes.


We're here to help you avoid these common pitfalls. Let's chat about your priorities, explore potential neighbourhoods, and create a winning strategy for a successful home purchase. Contact us today to start your journey!


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