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A Roundup Of First-Time Homebuyer Blunders?

Buying a first home ranks up there with meeting the in-laws or getting a huge red zit on prom night when it comes to stress level. And why shouldn't it? It's not every day you make a purchase worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Keep calm, stay focused. While you're at it, take a gander at these common first-time home buyer mistakes. Everybody's got to start somewhere. As they say: The more you know ...

A lot of newbies don't take into account just how much it costs to own a home. Sure, there's the mortgage payment, but you can also expect other factors to drain your bank account. For example, homeowner's insurance is going to be required. Also, property taxes aren't a laughing matter; neither are homeowner's association fees, where applicable.

Beyond that are the actual costs of the housing unit, such as electric and water bills that are probably going to be more than what you've experienced. And if something gets broken, there's no landlord to call.

Also, even though you're making a big purchase, don't assumes it means forever. You shouldn't necessarily look at your first home as the place you're going to spend the rest of your life — Americans tend to move around, a lot. On a related note, don't forget the importance of resale. Just because you love a home's quirks doesn't mean they'll come in handy when it comes time to sell. Be conscious of another common blooper: decorating before all the papers are signed. It's easy to get carried away with dreams of the picture-perfect pad, but there's no use in picking out drapery trim until the last document's signed and approved.

While you're at it, don't be afraid of using your real estate agent for all their worth. Ask the tough questions ... and expect them to have good answers. If they're not pulling their weight, reevaluate. (Yes, that rhymes). Also, be tough on the inspection. The name of the game is buyer beware. The last thing you want to do is get locked into an agreement without having all the necessary information on hand.

Lastly, get prequalified for a mortgage before you make one more move. Some buyers are afraid of the hard truth; they'll pick a number out of nowhere without knowing whether or not it's realistic. Not only will being prequalified save you time on your housing search, it'll make you more attractive to sellers.

— By Curbed Atlanta contributor Jonathan Carnright