Most people start their home search online and that is a great place to start. However, at some point they need to actually get out and see the homes in person. Usually that means finding a REALTOR® to open those lock boxes. Simple, right? Wait a minute. There are many ways things can go south when you are house hunting. Here are a few things you can do to help make your search not only easier, but more successful.
Work with just one REALTOR® - Find a REALTOR® that you like and trust. Interview a few, and pick one. Yes, you can just call the listing agent on the homes you wish to see, but the listing agent will also be representing the Seller. While this is not illegal, the listing agents want to sell their own listing and you may not get the full picture of other potential homes. Depending on the agreement you sign, the listing agent may not even be allowed to give you advice.
Leave the kids at home – When viewing other people’s homes, kids are not just a distraction. They want to run and see everything and touch everything. What can go wrong with that? They get hungry, cranky and having them “pick their room” before you have even decided on a house just confuses them. If at all possible, find a babysitter.
Taking the family – You will speed things along and save the family a lot of time if you narrow the search to just one or two homes before you bring in the cavalry. Once you have found the home you think you want to buy, then bring in Mom & Dad or some family for a second opinion. The more people there are when viewing, the longer it takes and the more opinions you will be listening to.
Dismissing a fixer-upper too quickly – Sometimes a home that needs some TLC can be a diamond in the rough. Look for the highlights, the floor plan, the major structural stuff like, roof, windows, plumbing and heating. A little paint and carpet and wallpaper removal can go a long way in changing an ugly duckling into a swan.
Spending time on your phone – Sometimes it is unavoidable. You have to take that call (see leave the kids at home above). But if you spend more time looking at your phone than looking at houses, you will miss a lot. While it’s not texting and driving, being distracted while making one of the most important decisions of your life is probably not the best plan.
Taking pictures – Unless you have permission from the Seller, don’t take pictures. While taking pictures to help you remember might seem like a good idea, it makes you look like you are casing the place for a robbery. Not to mention the Seller has a right to privacy in their own home. Once you have made the offer and have a deal, most sellers will allow you to take some pictures during the home inspection.
Listen to your REALTOR® - Your REALTOR® will offer valuable knowledge about the city, the area, other areas of the city, the homes you are viewing and other homes. He/she can do comparisons of recently sold homes. Not to mention the process of buying. Don’t take your own car, ride with your REALTOR® and take notes and ask questions.