Buying your first home is exhilarating. It's also the biggest investment you'll likely ever make, and probably the biggest one you've made so far. It's easy, whether from excitement or lack of knowledge, to make mistakes that you regret down the road.

Here are 4 common mistakes that you can avoid making:

1. Go to only one lender

Particularly if you've heard that each inquiry affects your credit score, you may be tempted to go to just one lender and hope for the best. Putting all your eggs in one basket like this is a bad idea. Ideally, you should talk to at least one national bank, one local bank or credit union, and an online lender. If you're concerned about your credit score taking a hit from the inquiries, consider hiring a broker instead - they can pull your score once and provide it to the lenders.

2. Don't get pre-approved early in the process

Many people who've never bought a home mistakenly believe the first step is finding the house. But the first step actually needs to be getting pre-approved. Pre-approval serves two purposes: it shows sellers that you're serious when you put in an offer, and it tells you exactly how much house you can afford. Both of these things are critical to getting your dream home.

3. Take the whole mortgage offer

When you apply for the loan or get your pre-approval, you may get more money than you expected. It can be tempting to use this to buy a bigger home, or just to stick the extra money in the bank. Don't do it. If your dream home is less than the amount of the mortgage you've been offered, you can take only the amount of the home. Even if you haven't found a home yet, you can decide for yourself to take less than the offer. Consider your budget and how easily you'll be able to make those payments later.

4. Waive contingencies without knowing the risks

When there are multiple offers, or you just really want a home, it's tempting to make an offer with no contingencies. But the contingencies are what protect your investment. When you make an offer that is contingent on getting financing, a clean inspection, or that the seller makes a specific repair first, you protect yourself from losing your deposit (if financing falls through) or ending up with a home you can't afford (because of unseen problems or a repair that you can't afford).

Your first home purchase is a learning experience. No matter how hard you try, it's impossible to avoid making at least one mistake. But some mistakes, like the ones above, are so common and easy that they're easy to avoid. You'll be able to move through the process more quickly and easily and get started on your new life in your new home.

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