Real Estate Broker

Home Buyer Checklist

Spring is the traditional start of house hunting season, and home buyers are exercising their fingers on the keyboard typing in their various parameters in an effort to make their dreams come true. It is great fun to look online at those photos, read the descriptions, and start to imagine how nice it would be to make a change. Just as spring flowers will begin to pop their heads out of the ground, so will many new listings be added to the veritable smorgasbord of real estate.

Before you start dancing the “Open House Two-Step” in an effort to chase a dream, let’s get organized to prevent confusion and perhaps disappointment. With such a large inventory of homes for sale out there, it is easy to become overwhelmed. Taking a bit of extra time in the beginning will ultimately help you narrow down the selection process.

Here is checklist I recommend my buyers follow:

Talk to a mortgage professional to learn what products are available to you based on your credit scores, income and expenses. This way you have confidence knowing exactly what price home is within your financial comfort zone.
Look at a map and make a decision of what areas are best suited for your commuting needs, school requirements, proximity to family/friends, and overall lifestyle preferences.
Start looking online at what is available within those areas.
Visit a few open houses if available. Drive through neighborhoods and turn your emotions on “low” and your instincts on “high.”
Connect with a Realtor to show you some of the properties from your narrowed down list. Realtors will have the latest information on price adjustments, availability, and additional factors not included in many online sites.
When visiting homes take a notebook. Your notes should include positives and negatives you see about each house. Write down any first impressions, good or bad, and anything that will help jog your memory at another time. Don’t skip this step as you will find it helps you later.

Every time I take buyers out and they say, “Oh I don’t need to write anything down, I’ll remember,” they come out of the last house looking fried and confused. “Which house had the yellow bathroom? Which house had that great deck? Which house was next to the sloppy neighbors?” They look at me sheepishly and say,” I guess I should have taken your suggestion about the notebook.”

When you return home, while they are fresh in your mind, go back to your notes and see if there is a pattern. For example:

From your ranking you can now prioritize the items that seem most important to you. For example we can see that 123 Main and 64 Oak seem to have things that are favored. You can put these homes in order of preference and eliminate those that you may have only one or two great features but overall the amenities don’t add up. This will allow you to narrow your list and either take a second look at your favorites or keep looking with a more discerning eye.

Talk to your Realtor about your list. They may have suggestions or ideas about properties that may have expired or aren’t on the market yet but may be approachable.

If you take the time to organize the process, your thoughts and impressions, and communicate openly you will save yourself a lot of time, headaches, as well as heartaches. That is the key to stress free house, successful hunting.

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