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Common Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Your First House in Iowa

Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a House
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Buying your first house in Iowa can be a thrilling and rewarding experience, but it can also be stressful and overwhelming. There are many things to consider, such as finding the right home, securing a mortgage, and negotiating the best deal. However, there are also some common mistakes that you should avoid when buying your first house in Iowa, as they can cost you time, money, and happiness. 


In this article, I will share with you some of the common mistakes to dodge when buying your first house in Iowa, and how to fix them if you have already made them. I will also show you how to understand the real estate contract, which can be daunting, especially when purchasing a property. You can also watch the video below where I explained more about the real estate contract and what to pay attention to when signing it.


By the end of reading this post, you will have a better understanding of how to buy your first house in Iowa without regrets.


Here are Four Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Your First House in Iowa


Mistake #1: Not Doing Your Homework


One of the biggest mistakes to avoid when buying your first house in Iowa is not doing your homework. This means not researching the market, the neighborhood, the home, and the seller. You should always do your homework before making an offer, as it can help you avoid overpaying, buying a lemon, or missing out on a better opportunity. 


Here are some tips on how to avoid this mistake:


  • Research the market: You should know the current market conditions, such as the average home price, the inventory, the demand, and the trends. You should also compare the prices of similar homes in the area, and see how long they have been on the market. This can help you determine the fair value of the home, and whether it is a buyer’s or a seller’s market.

  • Research the neighborhood: You should know the neighborhood where you want to buy your first house in Iowa, such as the amenities, the schools, the crime rate, the traffic, and the future development plans. Make a schedule to visit the neighborhood at different times of the day and week, and talk to the neighbors and the local agents. This can help you get a feel of the neighborhood, and whether it suits your lifestyle and preferences.

  • Research the home: You should know the home that you want to buy, such as the age, the size, the condition, the features, and the history. Inspect the home thoroughly, and look for any signs of damage, defects, or repairs. Ask the seller for any disclosures, such as any known problems, liens, or lawsuits. This can help you avoid buying a home that has hidden issues, or that requires costly maintenance or renovation.

  • Research the seller: Know more about the seller of the home that you want to buy, such as their motivation, their expectations, and their flexibility. It is better to check their reputation, feedback, and track record. This can help you understand the seller’s perspective, and whether they are willing to negotiate or cooperate.

Mistake #2: Not Getting Pre-Approved


Another common mistake to avoid when buying your first house in Iowa is not getting pre-approved. Pre-approval is a process where a lender evaluates your credit, income, assets, and debts, and determines how much money they are willing to lend you, and at what interest rate and terms. It is not the same as pre-qualification, which is a more informal and less reliable estimate of your borrowing power. 


Pre-approval is important for several reasons, such as:

  • It shows the seller that you are serious, qualified, and ready to buy their home, and that you have the financial backing of a lender. This can give you an edge over other buyers, especially in a competitive market, and increase your chances of getting your offer accepted.

  • It helps you set a realistic budget, and narrow down your home search to the homes that you can afford. This can save you time, energy, and disappointment, and prevent you from falling in love with a home that is out of your reach.

  • It gives you more confidence, clarity, and peace of mind, as you know how much money you can borrow, and what your monthly mortgage payment will be. This can help you avoid any surprises or stress, and make your home buying process smoother and easier.

To get pre-approved, you should contact a reputable lender, such as a bank, a credit union, or a mortgage broker, and provide them with your personal and financial information, such as your income, assets, debts, credit score, and tax returns.


The lender will then verify your information, and issue you a pre-approval letter, which states the amount, the interest rate, and the terms of the loan that they are willing to offer you. You should get pre-approved before you start looking for homes, and update your pre-approval letter every 60 to 90 days, as the market conditions and your financial situation may change.


Mistake #3: Not Hiring a Professional Realtor


A third common mistake to avoid when buying your first house in Iowa is not hiring a professional realtor. A realtor can help you in many ways, such as:


  • Finding the right home for you, based on your needs, wants, and budget. A realtor has access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which is a database of all the homes for sale in the area. A realtor can also use their network, experience, and knowledge to find homes that are not listed on the MLS, such as off-market, pre-foreclosure, or for-sale-by-owner homes.

  • Negotiating the best deal for you, based on the market value, the condition, and the terms of the home. A realtor can help you craft a competitive and attractive offer, and present it to the seller or their agent. A realtor can also help you handle any counteroffers, contingencies, or requests, and protect your interests and rights throughout the process.

  • Guiding you through the closing process, which involves many steps, such as arranging the home inspection, the appraisal, the title search, the escrow, the insurance, the financing, and the closing documents. A realtor can help you coordinate and communicate with all the parties involved, such as the seller, the lender, the inspector, the appraiser, the title company, the escrow agent, and the attorney. He can also help you resolve any issues, delays, or disputes that may arise, and ensure that everything goes smoothly and on time.

Hiring a professional realtor is not only beneficial but also cost-effective, as a good realtor will save you time and money during the transaction!  To hire a professional realtor, you should ask for referrals from your friends, family, or colleagues, or search online for reviews, ratings, and testimonials. You should also interview several candidates, and compare their credentials, experience, and personality. You should choose a realtor who is trustworthy, knowledgeable, and compatible with you.


Mistake #4: Not Understanding the Real Estate Contract


The last common mistake to avoid when buying your first house in Iowa is not understanding the real estate contract. 


What is a Real Estate Contract?


The real estate contract is a legal document that outlines the terms and conditions of the sale, such as the price, the closing date, the contingencies, and the responsibilities of each party. It is binding, and once you sign it, you are obligated to follow it, unless you have a valid reason to cancel it, such as a contingency clause. It can also be daunting, especially when purchasing a property, as it can be complex, lengthy, and full of jargon. 


However, you must understand the terms and details within the contract, as they can affect your rights, obligations, and expectations. 


Here are some tips on how to understand the real estate contract:


  • Read the contract carefully, and ask questions if you don’t understand something. You should never sign a contract that you don’t understand, or that you are not comfortable with. You should always consult with your realtor, your attorney, or your lender, if you have any doubts, concerns, or queries about the contract. They can explain the contract to you in simple and clear terms, and help you make an informed decision.

  • Pay attention to the overlooked sections and customizable elements, as they can make a difference in your offer. Some of the overlooked sections and customizable elements are anywhere on the contract that have dates or numbers. Those are incredibly important and you need the professionals to explain if they are reasonable and attainable given the transaction timeline.

Getting the hang of real estate contracts might seem as tricky as cracking a secret code. But don't worry because I am here to make things crystal clear. In the video below, I talked about the Des Moines Area Association of Realtors' (DMAAR) contract purchase agreement so you can understand it better.


What is a Des Moines Area Association of Realtors' Contract Purchase Agreement?

A Des Moines Area Association of Realtors’ (DMAAR) contract purchase agreement is a standard residential purchase agreement designed by the DMAAR, which is an association of 2,700+ members who are dedicated real estate professionals in the Des Moines area.


This contract purchase agreement establishes the promises and obligations of the seller and the buyer in a real estate transaction, such as the purchase price, the earnest money deposit, the closing date, and any contingencies or conditions.


This contract purchase agreement also includes a confirmation document that verifies the delivery and acceptance of state-required property disclosures. It informs the buyer of any material defects or issues with the property that may affect its value or safety. The DMAAR contract purchase agreement is a legally binding contract that must be signed by all authorized participants to secure the deal.


This agreement is the backbone of your home purchase, and understanding its terms is absolutely crucial.


Book a Free Consultation with a Real Estate Expert


Do you want to learn more about the mistakes to avoid when buying your first house in Iowa? Watch this vlog to understand more about the real estate contract, and what to pay attention to when signing it. 



If you have any questions or concerns about buying your first house in Iowa, or if you need any assistance or guidance, you can also book a free consultation with me. I will be happy to help you find your dream home, and make your home-buying process as smooth and easy as possible.



Buying your first house in Iowa is a big decision, and it can be both exciting and challenging. However, by avoiding some of the common mistakes that buyers make, and by understanding the real estate contract, you can make your home-buying experience more enjoyable and successful.


I wish you all the best in your home-buying journey!


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