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Mistakes new homebuyers should avoid making:

Studies find that new-home buyers fall into a dangerous moat and let their emotions cloud their judgement. Hence, they often make big mistakes that cost them a great deal of money, not to mention aggravation and stress. Smart buyers, on the other hand, put their emotions aside and find out as much as possible about the buying process.

Here are tips that will help you make prudent buying decisions.

Don’t be seduced by model homes. It’s hard not to be impressed by model homes. Builders go to great lengths to display perfect homes. The rooms are beautifully furnished, and all the accouterments — cabinets, sinks, lighting fixtures and appliances — are top-of-the-line. The psychology is obvious. They’re meticulously laid out and furnished to punch all the right buttons in potential new-home buyers. Before looking at model homes, make sure you love the neighbourhood and it meets your need.

Before house hunting, find out what kind of a mortgage you can get. Many homebuyers take on mortgages they can’t afford.

Shop for right mortgage lender — it could be a bank, builder/developer or credit union — before committing to a property. Speak to at least three lenders. Find one with excellent credentials and, most importantly, one that has programs that are financially feasible.

Don’t be reluctant to negotiate terms. Surprisingly, many new homebuyers fail to negotiate. They’re afraid of appearing confrontational or disagreeable. Negotiating goes part and parcel with the buying process. As I stressed in last week’s column, buying a home ranks among the most important purchases of our lives, all the more reason to negotiate a deal that works in your favour. Lenders and builders expect buyers to negotiate. Buyers have to feel good knowing that they’ve gotten the best deal possible.

Ask neighbours about a builder’s reputation. Before signing on the dotted line, speak to a few potential neighbours to get their opinions about the builder’s reputation. Ask important questions such as: Did they have any problems? If so, what were they? How long did it take for the builder to get to the punch list? If the builder was slow to address a problem or has a bad reputation, this is the time to find out.

Make sure house is inspected by an independent professional. Surprisingly, many new homebuyers don’t bother to have their home inspected. They mistakenly assume that because it’s new, it’s perfect. Rather than use an inspector the builder suggests, find one yourself. They’re easy to find and check out. The goal is to get an unbiased, objective assessment of the property.

Ask for a “punch list” before closing. The punch list is a list of problems that have to be fixed. Reliable builders will do this automatically. But don’t assume it will be done. Some of the items on the list are easy to fix, such as popped nails or screws on the drywall. Some are not so simple, however.

Warning: Many builders will pressure buyers to close before the punch list items are taken care of so they can go on to the next job. Never close before the home is completely finished.