We learned in Mistake #4 not to take someone at his or her word until you get a written, signed agreement. Likewise, when you're buying a house for the first time, you can't just depend on asking the seller or real estate agent about problems with the foundation or plumbing. Not only might the seller or agent be less than candid about the answers, but chances are they're not construction experts.
If you skip the step of getting your own professional inspection, you risk living in a home that costs almost as much in repairs as you paid for it in the first place. As much as you're attracted to unique fixtures and structures in old houses, they may turn into a major liability.
So, when you make your offer to the seller, make sure they know that your offer is contingent on your approval of the house passing inspections. Before the inspector gets to work, make sure you agree on what he or she will check. This should include the overall foundation and structural features of the house, plumbing, the presence of mold or pest infestations, heating and air conditioning, as well as the electrical system. It's also a good idea to make sure the inspector is reputable -- check to see if he or she is certified with the American Society of Home Inspectors.
Next we'll take a look at the ultimate -- and perhaps the easiest -- financial mistake you can make when buying your first home.