5 costly mistakes home buyers make

By most expert accounts, sellers in Atlanta’s real estate market currently have a slight edge over buyers. Housing inventory is low for the season. Mortgage interest rates remain relatively low, which means there is strong demand from buyers hoping to score the home of their dreams. The result is upward pressure on home prices which starts to create bubbles until the bubble pops and everything rights itself again.

So much of the attention is on sellers, but if you are in the market for a home, there are some things you can do to make the journey easier. In the March issue of Consumer Reports magazine, a survey of real estate agents revealed the mistakes some home buyers  are making. One of the big ones is not taking the time to find the right real estate agent. The wrong person, it seems, can cost you money. Here are a few other costly mistakes home buyers are making and how to avoid them:

Moving too fast. When you don't do your homework, you may end up paying too much for a home. Don't overestimate your understanding of the local real estate market. Take the time to look around in one particular area for a while so you can understand what homes are really worth. Don't make an offer on the first home you see. Be sure you see lots of homes and if you do make an offer and your negotiations stall, don't be afraid to walk away.

Having eyes that are bigger than your wallet. This seems obvious, but of the surveyed agents in the Consumer Reports survey, 33 percent said consumers underestimate the costs of home ownership. Buying a home doesn't just mean covering a mortgage. It also means being able to cover the closing costs and other fees, paying for utilities, taxes, and more. And if you are moving into anything less than your dream house and are planning repairs, be sure to factor that into the price of the home as well.

Getting your credit up. You need a strong credit profile to get the most favorable loan terms. If your credit score is low, or if you don't how your credit rates, get your credit reports now and if you see any errors, initiate a dispute.

Not shopping 'til rates drop. Don't just go with your regular bank when you are looking for a mortgage. Consider several lenders (banks, credit unions) and look for national rates online. Consumer Reports cautions that some mortgage brokers may be more focused on selling you a mortgage than getting you the best deal. Be sure to get pre-approved for a loan before you shop so sellers will take you seriously.

Skipping the inspection. I can't imagine anyone skipping this step but according to agents in the Consumer Reports survey, not getting a home inspection is one of the biggest causes of buyer's remorse. You should plan to be at the inspection so you can learn about any costly repairs that might be needed. You will also get basic information on the home, such as where the electrical panel is and how to shut off the water. A good home inspector can also give you a heads up on repairs that will need to be done in the next few years. Make sure whoever you hire is licensed.