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Pitfalls when buying a house: 8 tips on how to avoid them

So you’ve found your dream home. And now you want it as soon as possible. But beware. Don’t fall prey to these pitfalls.

1. Not going to enough viewings
You come in and you know: this house has it all. But on a first visit, you’re guaranteed to overlook things. A first visit does not give you the whole picture. To avoid rushing to buy, it’s wise to schedule a 2nd and even 3rd or 4th viewing. In the current market, there’s not always time for that. Make sure you keep a cool head.

TIP: Bring someone with a critical eye. It could be an estate agent, but also a friend or family member.

2. Letting go of your demands
When you start your house hunt, make a list of requirements. Your new home may not meet the whole list, but think carefully before you let go of too many requirements. Always critically compare the house you fell in love with the list of requirements you made in the beginning.

TIP: Check again to see if the house is right for the things you want to do every day. Not only now, but also in the years to come.

3. Not getting a building inspection
A building inspection takes time and money and often makes the seller impatient. But even so, it’s important to know the condition of a house before you buy it. Also examine the legal issues: for example the zoning plan or easements such as the right of way. The law states that as a buyer, you’re required to do your best to inspect a house for defects (the ‘duty of investigation’).

TIP: Have a building inspection included in the terms and conditions of your purchase contract.

4. Negotiating poorly
Sharp negotiation can save you thousands of euros, but it’s a profession in itself.

TIP: If you’re not a born negotiator, get help from an estate agent.

5. Talking to the mortgage advisor too late
Before you start bidding on a house, you need good, personal mortgage advice. If you negotiate without knowing your maximum mortgage, you may not be able to do it at the last minute.

TIP: Bring your mortgage advisor into your house hunt on time.

6. Not paying attention to the location
The house may be beautiful, but have you also paid attention to the surroundings? The atmosphere in the neighbourhood, parking and how accessible work, shops, schools and other daily things are is important for enjoying where yo live. In your enthusiasm you can also overlook things that will be inconvenient.

TIP: Explore the neighborhood at different times of the day and find information about the neighborhood online.

7. Forgetting legal checks
It seems simple. The seller has a house and sells it to you. Then it’s yours. That’s usually how it goes, but it can be more complicated, for example after a divorce or when you buy a house from an inheritance. The house or things in the immediate vicinity may also still be involved in lawsuits.

TIP: Be critical and keep asking questions. The seller has a duty to inform you about those things.

8. Not including resolutive conditions
Resolutive conditions guarantee that you can cancel the sale if unexpected things happen. Including ‘subject to financing’ in the provisional purchase contract can protect you if you can’t get a mortgage. If you include that the contract is subject to building inspection, you can renegotiate if there is a lot of overdue maintenance to be done.

TIP: Some sellers prefer not to have these conditions in the sales contract. Don’t give in too quickly. Not including resolutive conditions means you can run great risks.