Home Buying Step Six, Visiting homes.
This is Step six of Home Buying, 12 Steps and the Serenity Prayer. It's time to see some homes.
Your agent has reviewed your criteria and knows the pre-approved price range provided by your lender. They have provided you with several homes to consider and together you have selected the best candidates.
On this day, preparation is important. I like to provide my clients with a print out of each home we selected to so they can take notes as we go. Ideally you have 2-3 hours available to see 3-5 homes. More homes than this and everything starts to run together. If the homes are located close together, you may not need as much time, but it really depends on your pace and how you process what you see.
When you are looking at homes please remember a few things. Most sellers are not decorators. Despite the growth of the Staging Industry, it is still very common to see things which distract you from why you are there. Furnishings, decorations, books and plants generally go with the seller. Their choices of paint, wall paper and even carpets should not distract you from the floor plan, size and amenities. You are planning to buy the house; these distractions will be gone or are easily changed.
I had a buyer several years ago who had very specific criteria. The first batch of homes included what I thought was a perfect match. It hit on all of the "must haves," most of their "want to haves" and even some of their "would like to have but would live without." When they didn't want to make an offer, I thought perhaps I'd missed something or that it was just too early in the process. We continued to look for several weeks, I reminded them of the house, but they gave me a firm no. Months went by; looking anytime something new came up. The first home we saw went off the market and eventually came back on. The price was lowered, but that wasn't the previous limitation. I emailed the listing to my buyer again, it had some new pictures, and they wanted to see it.
It was perfect! "How long had this been on the market" they asked? I told them. "Why didn't we see it before?" "We did" I said. "NO WAY." The difference was the house had been neutralized. Same floor plan, lot, and location, except the flowery wall paper was gone and so was the pink carpet. We wrote the offer and they have been very happy there.
Try to look past the secondary cosmetics. See the house, the floor plan and the way it lives. If a home doesn't show well, but fits your criteria, you may be able to do well on price because other buyers will be hampered by the distractions.
Take notes; decide on each home as you leave, could you live there? After home number two on our trip I like to ask my clients to pretend they are in the optometrist's chair. If you've never worn glasses you might not understand, but I ask, "Better 1 or 2?" If they say, 1 after the third home I ask, "Better 1 or 3?" each time trying to eliminate a choice allowing us to eventually finish with a clear winner.
Another strategy is to rate each house on a 1-10 scale. If the first one is a 5, the second a 3 the forth a 6 etc, you have a way of picking the best one.
At the end of the day, you should have eliminated some of the homes, and hopefully come up with a couple or more good choices. If one stands out, you get to move on to step Eight, write an offer. If not, then step Seven, Recapitulation.
Here are the other posts in this series.