No matter the age or life stage, everyone makes mistakes when it comes to home-buying.
Whether it's picking the wrong location or buying more house than you can afford, the mistakes are often universal, says Ilyce Glink, author of 100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask.
"When you're in your 20s, your life isn't the same as when you're retired, and yet you're both going to make timing mistakes," Glink says. "You may make location mistakes. You may not think about what you need for every stage of your life, so you buy the wrong size home or make a bad money decision."
Even so, certain age groups are more susceptible to particular missteps than others. Here are common mistakes homeowners make at each age, and a few ways to avoid them.
20s: Getting the wrong type of mortgage
People in their 20s are just starting their careers and usually have less money saved than older homebuyers. For these folks, paying less for a mortgage is not just a priority but a necessity.
Those buyers should be wary of getting into an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM), thinking they will earn more money down the road, says Michael Corbett, host of Extra's Mansions and Millionaires and author of Find It, Fix It, Flip It.
"Younger buyers might get an adjustable-rate mortgage because the rate is really low; it's like a teaser rate," Corbett says. "And they think, 'I'm going to get it because I'm improving in my job situation, or I'll pay off my student loan.' But if that doesn't happen then, when interest rates go up in five to seven years, they're going to see their mortgage rates double or even triple."
If ARM rates increase dramatically, there's a chance a borrower will no longer be able to afford the mortgage payment, which could put the house in jeopardy. Before leaping into an ARM, consider other cost-saving alternatives.
Along with popular programs, such as FHA loans and VA loans, there are other lesser-known initiatives geared to homebuyers on a fixed income. The HUD-sponsored Good Neighbor Next Door program, for example, offers homebuying assistance for law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers.
Along with federal money, there are also state-sponsored grants for first-time homebuyers; check your state's website.
30s: Not thinking about the future
Homebuyers in their 30s blunder by not considering a future family when they're looking at a downtown condo with gorgeous views and access to a rooftop pool. While snagging the ultimate bachelor or bachelorette pad might seem alluring, it can cost you money down the road, Corbett says.
"What happens is they end up having to sell — maybe not at an appropriate time," Corbett says. "Now they're doing it under duress instead of planning ahead the first time, so there's a lot of money lost there."
If you plan to have a family, it's important to consider that when you're home shopping, even if you're currently single.
Glink says to ask yourself these questions before buying a home:
Those answers should be an integral part of what you look for in a home. For example, if you think you might want kids or even a dog, you'll probably want a home with a backyard versus one near a great nightlife.
40s-50s: Overestimating your budget
In your 40s and 50s, you tend to have more money, which can lead to overestimating your budget and buying a house you can't afford. One way to avoid this is to figure out your lifestyle comfort level, Glink says.
"Just because you can afford a $500,000 home doesn't mean you should buy one. If you're married and both you and your spouse are working, figure out whether or not you can afford the mortgage payment if one of you gets laid off," Glink says.
Figuring out your budget is a critical step for buyers of all ages. Even experienced homebuyers can make the mistake of spending at their limit, which can mean making sacrifices that they weren't prepared to make. Use a home affordability calculator to determine how much you should spend.
60s and up: Falling in love with that vacation home
Many homeowners in their 60s are retired or getting ready to retire. Among the many decisions retirees make is where to live. While some choose to stay where they are, many plan to move to warmer climates or even another country.
A costly mistake retirees make, Glink says, is going on vacation, falling in love with the place, and moving immediately. Relocating and buying a home is an expensive process, so retirees should familiarize themselves with a new place before buying.