While hunting for the perfect house, it can be easy to get swept away in the excitment of it all. That gorgeous front door! The amazing yard! The remodeled kitchen! And once you begin to look at several houses, over several weekends, it can begin to get confusing. Purchasing a house is probably the most important purchase you'll ever make, so take a deep breath, and make a plan, you'll be glad you did.
Before you schedule a time to view a house with your Buyer's agent, do a ''drive by" of the house that you would like to see the inside of. Qualify the street, the traffic, the neighborhood, and the exterior to be sure that match what you're looking for in your next purchase. It will feel like a waste of time to you if you should schedule showings (which can sometimes require a decent amount of coordination between the sellers, their agent, and your agent), and have no desire to even walk through the front door when you get there. After you do the "drive by" of the houses that meet your initial criteria, request showings from your Buyer's agent from those that have made "the cut".
Once you start looking at houses, all sorts of charms and features of different houses will begin to sway you (and confuse you!). This is where you need to keep your wants and needs list close. Narrowing it down to the top five features that you're looking for in a home, as well as the top five features that you DON"T want, will help to eliminate some of the emotion in the home purchase. Make a comparison chart where each house gets a +1 for a need met, and a -1 for something that is not wanted in the purchase. You'll find that the best matches for what it is you're looking for, will have the higher scores.
Walk through once and take it all in initially. Allow yourself to have the "ooohs" and the "aaaaahs", and really experience the home fully. It's easy to get excited and hard to focus on, well, anything, as you walk through each room the first time. So go with it and have fun. Once you've walked through the house once, then the real work will begin.
After you've walked through once, go back to the front door and start again. This time, pull out your clipboard and go through the house like an inspector versus a potential home buyer.
Request from your Realtor to take pictures as you walk through, and make a super-basic sketch of the home's floorplan starting at the front door. After looking at several houses, we find that memory begins to fade. (By the way, while it's assumed that the photos will be for personal use to jog your memory, remeber that you shouldn't be posting them on sites like Facebook, until, at least, you own the house).
Open closets and cupboards, notice how many there are, and check out how full they are. We find that storage is very important, and if the current owner has them packed-to-overflowing, chances are there may be a storage availability issue for you, too.
Look high and look low at things that are out of your normal line of vision. It's really important to be sure you know details of what you may be purchasing, so be sure to notice the ceiling, lighting, the walls, roof, under sinks, and under rugs. While you wouldn't ask to see under a rug during a busy open house, sometimes rugs and furniture are used to conceal damaged floors. If you are seriously considering putting in an offer, you are within your right to investigate what might be going on under there. Request from your Realtor, and they should be able to accomodate you.
If you do come back for a second showing, schedule it for a different day and time than the first tour. In the evening, notice the changes in light and also the ambiance of the neighborhood. How's the traffic? The noise? Are kids playing outside? Are neighbors in their yards? Depending on the neighborhood, you may see something very different than your first showing.
Having a plan for your home search will keep the experience much more organized and fun. Probably the most important purchase of your life, having that plan in place will allow you to feel confident that you've made the right decision for you once you get to the closing table.
Melissa Rolland is a licensed Connecticut realtor. She lives in Tolland, along with her husband Todd, a licensed broker. Together they manage the Rolland Realty Group at Keller Williams Realty. You can connect with them at www.RollandRealtyGroup.com.