Okay, maybe not EVERYTHING. But there are many misconceptions people have about buying a house. Some of them can even keep would-be homeowners from realizing their dream.

Let’s look at some of the most common ones.

1. Everyone puts 20% down on a home.

A 20% down payment used to be required to get approved for a home loan, but that’s no longer the case. In our experience, roughly 8 out of 10 buyers don’t put 20% down on a home.

Thanks to government-backed loans and creative financing options, you can get into a home with a low down payment or even NO down payment.

  • FHA loans: 3.5% or 10% down depending on your credit score
  • VA loans: zero down
  • USDA loans: zero down
  • ARMs: as low as 5% down
  • Piggyback loans: generally 5% or 10% down

You can read more about these loans here. When choosing a loan, it’s important to consult with a financial professional. The down payment amount is just one factor in finding the best loan option for your situation.

2. If you qualify for it, you can afford it.

People make this mistake with other types of financing, not just home loans. Just because you get approved for a $500,000 mortgage doesn’t necessarily mean you should buy a $500,000 house. Though it looks like you can afford it on paper, the reality could be very different.

Here’s why. Lenders use a basic calculation called DTI (debt-to-income) ratio to determine your maximum loan amount. In general, you can’t owe more than 36% of your income to qualify for a home loan.

This calculation is imprecise because you may have other expenses that aren’t debt but take a significant amount of your income. Maybe you’re planning to start or expand your family. Maybe you have recreational activities, like sports or travel, that are an important part of your life. These don’t factor into your DTI but can affect how much income you have to devote to a house payment. You won’t enjoy your new home like you should if the payments are a constant struggle.

Again, consult with a financial professional. He or she can help you determine how much house you can afford.

3. Adjustable rate mortgages are always a bad idea.

Adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) get a bad rap. While they aren’t for everyone, they can be a great option for those who aren’t going to live in a home long-term, or who will pay off the mortgage within the fixed term. These buyers get the benefit of a lower interest rate for a fixed term of 3, 5 or 7 years, and a lower down payment, too.

4. You don’t need your own agent when you’re buying a home. The agent on the listing can take care of the whole thing.

Depending on your state, it may be legal for one agent to handle both sides of the transaction, with proper disclosures. But that doesn’t mean it’s the best idea for buyers.

The listing agent is hired by and works for the seller. It’s not just their job to put their client’s needs first—it’s their fiduciary duty. It’s a contractual and legal obligation.

You need someone to put your needs first and fight to get you the best possible deal. That’s the job of a buyer’s agent. Without one, you’ll be on your own for negotiations. Read more about buyer’s agents here.

5. You can save money by not using a buyer’s agent.

The reason some buyers don’t take advantage of having their own agent is because they think they’ll have to pay the commission.

That’s not true. The seller pays the commissions for both agents. It’s built into the home price and is an expected cost associated with selling a house.

Even if it weren’t, a buyer’s agent more than earns his or her keep by helping you get the lowest possible purchase price. Buying a home is a complex process, and the time and frustration you’ll save with an agent’s help is worth its weight in gold.

6. You always have to bid more to win against other buyers.

If another buyer bids significantly more than you, then yes, the seller is likely going with the higher offer. But if your offer is close, there are other factors that go into the decision.

Most of the time, selling a home is not a purely financial decision. It’s often an emotional process, especially if the seller lived in the home.

The seller might take into account your plans for the house. Many a seller has chosen what looked like the lesser offer because the buyer wanted to raise a family in the home, rather than use it for investment.

7. Buying a home is always a stressful hassle.

Yes, buying a home is a major life and financial decision—especially if it’s your first. There’s a certain weight that always comes with that. (And a lot of excitement, too!) But there are ways to make the process smoother and easier.

The stress-causing mistake many buyers make is not having the help of a buyer’s agent. A good agent can do so much more than help find listings.

He or she can walk you through the entire home buying process, including:

  • Recommending home inspectors and other professionals
  • Helping obtain correct financing
  • Helping you with contracts and other confusing real estate paperwork
  • Keeping on top of the process at every stage
  • Giving you upfront advice and answering all your questions

In Wichita, Madrigal Team Gold has just such agents. If you’re thinking of buying a home, contact us today. We can help you navigate the process and get into the home you’ve dreamed of.