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Clark Howard: Mistakes of both home buyers and sellers

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We’re coming up on one of the housing market’s peak buying and selling times. With that in mind, what are the biggest mistakes made by both sellers and buyers?

For sellers, I find the top mistake they make is in selecting an agent. If you’re interviewing agents, don’t list with the agent who says they’ll get you the most money for your home. The danger here is if you overprice your home, it takes longer to sell and ultimately sells at a lower price than if you were more realistically priced upfront.

As a buyer, the No. 1 mistake is falling in love with a house before you buy it. It’s the “I gotta have this house!” syndrome. The reality is, whatever home you buy, you will have time to fall in love with it after you buy it. Because if you fall in love with a house before you buy it, you’ll probably overpay for it.

But not everyone is in a position to be buying a home.For people just starting out in life, it’s becoming more difficult to afford a place to live. Bunking up with several roommates is becoming more common around the country. 

Some time ago, I talked to a flight attendant who had two children. When her home flight base was closed, she had to transfer to another one in a different city, and her only recourse was to share an apartment with 15 other attendants. She said everyone had their own bunk bed, taking up all the rooms in the apartment. But this was the only way to make it affordable. 

The Habitat for Humanity homes I help build use computer-aided design to use every inch of available space. This allows them to build four-bedroom, two-bath homes with only 1,000 square feet. The upshot is, if we can live with less, we can make homes for people that are decent and affordable.

Consumer expert Clark Howard’s column appears here each Thursday in conjunction with Deal Spotter, a weekly print section in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Find more answers to your consumer questions at Clark's website.

-- Clark Howard -- Save More, Spend Less, Avoid Rip-offs -- for the Atlanta Bargain Hunter blog

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