Spending the maximum on housing
Lenders qualify buyers based on their incomes and debt-to-income ratios without considering how much the borrowers spend on items such as transportation, savings, food and other necessities.
"A lot of first-time buyers are optimistic about the future and excited about buying a home, so they borrow the absolute maximum they can afford instead of allowing themselves wiggle room for a partial loss of income or for future expenses such as children," Harrison says.
Financial experts recommend that consumers decide how much they want to spend each month on housing before meeting with a lender.
"Every buyer should create their own budget and know their limits," says Stephen Adamo, president of Weichert Financial Services in Morris Plains, New Jersey.
Adamo says many first-time homebuyers experience a sizable change in their housing payments. Some new owners may go from $500 per month in rent to a monthly mortgage payment of $2,000, he says.
"You need to deal with payment shock," Adamo says.