Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Home Buying Process (4) Selecting/Viewing Homes; Decision

1. Where’ve you been?

Sorry, busy. Love those buyers!

2. Right. May we start looking at homes now?

Soon. You’ve determined one of the two most important aspects in buying, a price you can comfortably afford. Stick to that price range. Looking at half-million dollar homes when you’re in the $300k range produces little but inflated expectations.

The second most important: location. Even if you’re not new to the area, focus on those things most important to you – schools, commute time, walking distance to shopping, crime rate, neighborhood turnover, etc – get recommendations from your agent and drive through those neighborhoods to see what feels best. Narrow it down to a few and prioritize, remembering that location also determines price. You may have to sacrifice some of one for more of the other.

3. …Now?

Not quite. Broadly prioritize needs: size, yard, bedrooms, baths. At this point don’t get too picky, otherwise you may miss something.

Your agent will have an internet search engine – either directly from the MLS or a more sophisticated map based system – that can give you current listings in the price and neighborhoods of your choice. Study them. Narrow it down to seven or eight; your agent will likely have suggestions based on conversation as well.

4. To the car??

Yep, armed with two things: patience and a notebook. If you have a camera even better, or ask your agent to shoot photos for you. Take your time, take notes, and by all means talk about what you like or don’t like about what you’re seeing. That’s part of the agent’s learning process.

Under no circumstances see more than ten homes in a day; they’ll all start looking the same. Process the notes over tea soon after you’re done.

In the meantime, a good agent will be watching you and listening to what you’re saying. After that first day a good agent can have a good enough idea that he or she can be previewing homes for you and making informed recommendations.

Then: continue as long as necessary and you’ve found the home you want, not one that will simply do.

5. How do I tell the difference?

Instinct.

6. Wow. Cryptic. Explain?

Home buying is equal parts right and left brain, intuitive and rational. I’ve seen a number of people rely too heavily on the latter, talking themselves into liking a home because it has check marks by all the requirements, but no real connection. They end up in a house, not a home, and move as soon as they get the chance.

On the other hand, too much “Oh, I just LOOOOOOOVE IT!” can lead to overlooking problems that may exist. Not good either.

Make the connection – believe me, your agent will know when you do – then rationally weigh all the contingencies. There’s nothing an agent likes to hear more than “We just love it.” at the end of a year or two.

1 comment:

Duane said...

Jeff, great post!

"Instinct" can now be turned into "Due Diligence" by approaching the largest investment in life through a Home Rating Program.

Couples who Rate A Home together will find this tool to be valuable in narrowing down the choice and removing the frustration of choosing the home that best meets their needs "together".