How to Size up a Home in 8 Minutes or Less

Real Estate Agent with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices NJ Properties

Great post from Brian! I honestly don't understand why you would need to see every nook and cranny of every home we look at IF you have decided when you walked throught the door (or even before) that you would NEVER live there.  I suppose I understand that if you have never owned a home you may view this as a learned experience - - and I understand that but when it takes 45 minutes in each property...  come on, that's overkill!

Original content by Brian Block

You should take your time when searching for a home. 

That's worth repeating:  You should take your time when searching for a home. 

If such an important project is rushed too quickly then you're susceptible to making mistakes not achieving good long-term results.  A home search and home purchase ranks really high on life's priority list.  If you're like most people, you (and your family) will be spending many waking hours and almost all of your sleeping hours in that home for the next 5-7 years.  You don't want to screw this decision up -- the consequences are much farther reaching, much more costly, and much longer-lasting than simply picking the wrong item off the menu at Ruth's Chris (as if that's possible) or bringing home a wrong sized shirt from Macy's.

That being said, there's no reason to waste time either when you are out on a home tour looking at potential homes.  Real estate is a process of elimination.  Working with a good REALTOR and viewing photos, descriptions, and virtual tours online, you've likely eliminated a good many homes before you physically go to view the remaining candidates. 

Take your time and linger in the homes that you like.  Test things.  Search around.  Explore.  That's what the home tour is all about.

In the spirit of eliminating homes from your list of potentials and not wasting time, keep reading below:

8 Minutes or Less



  • You Hate The Neighborhood:  Keep on driving!  The home looked perfect online and in the description, but then you got to the neighborhood.  Uh oh.  Abandoned cars.  People storing boats.  Pink flamingoes on the neighbor's lawn.  This is not your idea of the ideal neighborhood.  You can fix up the house but you can't do much about the neighborhood.  No need to get out of the car.  Your REALTOR will understand and will not be offended.  No need to waste your time looking at this house!

  • Match up your priorities:  You've got your wants and needs list.  There are certain things you'll compromise on but others that are dealbreakers.  If you walk into a home and see a dealbreaker, walk right out.  There's no reason to keep looking and to keep saying to yourself "if this home only didn't have..." or "if only this home had..."  Move on.

  • Quick Cursory Glance:  Walk the main floor first -- kitchen, dining room, living room -- these are the important rooms where you'll be spending a lot of time.  Head upstairs.  Look at room sizes, closet space, bathrooms.  Unless you like these areas and want to see more, skip the basement.  If the main levels pass the "smell" test, then explore further.

  • Same floor plan. Look for differences:  Often times when viewing numerous homes, you'll come across similar floor plans.  Don't waste time looking at the same stuff.  Look for differences between this home and others you've seen.  It's the little (and big) differences that matter.

  • Split up:  Want to really save time?  If you're searching for a home with another family member or friend, split up and view different parts of the home simultaneously.  If one of you sees something you love or hate, call the other one over to see it.  If one of you sees a dealbreaker, call the other one and scram.

  • Realize that your first impressions are usually right:  Whether you love the home or you hate it, you'll likely know pretty quickly.  Learn to trust your first impressions.  If you love it, or even really like it, keep exploring the home.  Don't bother pulling out the tape measure and flushing toilets if the home doesn't have the walk-in closet or is in the wrong school zone.

You're on your own timetable.  There's no rush when purchasing a home, but wasting time is an anathema, isn't it?  My favorite home inspector likes to say "Festina Lente -- Make Haste Slowly" -- look it up.



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Comments (1)

Steven Cook
No Longer Processing Mortgages. - Tacoma, WA

Jennifer -- thanks for sharing Brian's comments.  They make sense.

Dec 19, 2011 05:45 AM