Home buyers who avoid these 4 mistakes will save a LOT of hassle, money, and time.

These mistakes are often made by first-time homebuyers and veteran homebuyers - experience doesn't necessarily weed out these missteps.

Many mistakes are unintentional (or well-intentioned) - but they can cause a LOT of problems, both during the home search and then once a home has been put under contract. Understanding these mistakes can avoid many problems.

The 4 common mistakes:

(1) Not knowing one's numbers. This is prior to talking to a mortgage lender - a home buyer should completely understand their credit score, monthly income and debt obligations, and precisely how much money they want to spend (both in terms of cash downpayment and monthly housing expense).

(2) Not knowing the Residential Purchase Agreement and Joint Escrow Instructions. This is the standard California Association of Realtors' purchase offer/contract paperwork. An updated form has JUST been issued and understanding it is critical - it literally contains the rules of the real estate game. Most buyers (and their agents) do NOT take the time to carefully understand this document, the various options contained within, and the strategies that can be used to improve the potential terms of sale.

(3) Not understanding the "whys" of their preferred home features. Everyone understands (or usually understands) the features that they want in a home. For example, 3 bedroom, 2 bathrooms, a yard, and an attached garage. But understanding WHY these features are important or WHY certain aspects of the home/neighborhood/city are important is even MORE important.

(4) Not picking one agent with whom to work. Many people make the mistaken assumption that having several agents working on their behalf will improve their results. This is almost universally incorrect. What it oftentimes ends up doing is creating a situation where conflicting incentives yield manipulation and lack of service to the buyers' interests.

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