In the hunt for the perfect house, it’s easy to get swept away by a home’s most charming details and play down the important stuff you’ll be kicking yourself for later. And if you are touring multiple open houses each weekend, keeping everything straight can get complicated.
Set your priorities and streamline the house-hunting process early on, and you can breathe easier knowing you have a handle on things. It’s probably the most important purchase you will ever make, so take a few deep breaths and make a plan before diving in. You’ll be glad you did.
These 10 tips can help you stay organized and focused on the important things during your house hunt.
1. Set your priorities. Before taking a look at any houses, sit down and write out everything you want in a home, with input from all members of the household. Then choose your top five, or even top three, must-haves. Share these with your Realtor to help them better find you the right matches to fit you and your family’s needs.
Once you start looking, all sorts of charming features are bound to sway you; keeping your priorities list close at hand can help you stay on track.
2. Make a comparison chart. After you have seen a dozen or more houses, it becomes difficult to keep track of the features in each one. Make things a little easier by creating your own comparison chart or checklist to bring along to each home, and make notes on it during or immediately after each tour.
Beyond the basics, consider including notes on landscaping, the condition of the roof and exterior, natural light in each room, storage space and cost per square foot. Consider this chart a personal tool – something you can look back on to help guide your decision-making. This is not a substitute for a good home inspection. We highly recommend every homebuyer hire and have a professional whole-house inspection, pest, roof and if applicable, chimney after your offer is accepted.
3. Walk through once and let yourself soak it all in. When you tour a home for the first time, the excitement can make it difficult to focus on . . . well, anything at all. So we say, just go with it. Have fun, wander around and mentally note your first impressions of the space. Most of the time your first impression is the best.
4. Then go back to the beginning and start again. Walk back to the front of the house and literally begin your tour again. This time, pull out your notes and pen, take your time and approach the home as if you were an inspector rather than a potential buyer. What stands out? What do you notice that you may have questions about?
5. Bring furniture measurements. Jumping the gun? Maybe. A deal breaker? Probably not. But if every room in the house presents problems with your current furniture situation, you could effectively be adding thousands of dollars to the price if you have to purchase new furniture – something that is probably better to know sooner rather than later.
6. Ask to take photos (or even a video). It’s amazing how quickly memory fades. Make sure you have backup by creating a floor plan and taking photos or a short video tour if possible. It will really give you a full picture of what the house looks like. Be sure to ask the Realtor for permission before taking any photos or video. And even then, it is assumed that they are for personal use, so don’t post them to your Facebook page or blog . . . at least not until you own the house.
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