Ten great tips to start your home search

September 15, 2014

Here are ten great tips that will minimize your chances for error and provide the direction toward a good start.

©richard montgomery

Reader Question: We are outgrowing our apartment and going to investigate buying a home. We want to do this without the help of our parents and friends, but we have no idea where to start. We want to do it right. How should we get started? Michael and Anna L.

Monty’s Answer: Home seekers that take advantage of each home viewing opportunity to learn about the home and neighborhood, even when they pass on the house, generally experience the best results. It is a mistake to simply breeze through the house without any questions and simply dismiss it. Every home has features that can go unseen unless you take advantage of your time there. Expressing your preferences, even as they change, clearly and firmly to your agent is helpful, as they search the MLS listings.

It is not uncommon for couples to have different likes and dislikes. In order to more efficiently reach your goals, write down your observations and thoughts after each viewing to help sort priorities out. Do not be dis­appointed a home does not meet your needs. Each home provides valuable insight and knowledge regarding your tastes and your priorities.

You also gain experience on which to base an opinion of value. Keep the property data sheet that contains the basic information to help establish a sense of comparative value for when you find the home you want to own.

Views On Viewing

Consider this advice within the context of your particular situation and what is comfortable for you:

  1. Investigate the capacity of major systems like the furnace, water heater and wiring but do not confuse the capacity with condition. The system’s original capacity may have been enough when installed but may not be enough today.
  2. Walk out the lot line. If the seller cannot identify the boundaries, ask if a survey exists. What you learn in a backyard can be helpful, especially after a good rain.
  3. Do not buy the first home you view without comparing it to others. Remember that “fear of loss” is rarely a good reason to make a quick decision.
  4. Take notes on the property spec sheet and keep it on file to make comparisons later on. Search the Dear Monty website for “What is the true price of a home” to learn more about valuation. A home will likely be your largest purchase ever.
  5. Wear comfortable clothing. You may want to examine a piece of equipment, climb into the crawl space or walk between shrubs to get a better look at siding.
  6. Be sure to schedule the showing during the day.
  7. Bring a flashlight, pen knife, tape measure, pen and paper and a marble. Get permission or have your agent do so before you open doors, roll marbles or check for dry rot.
  8. Check the condition of trees, shrubs, sidewalks and the potential for street improvements.
  9. Do not overlook traffic (air, street or railroad), industrial odor or noise and transit costs. If you are interested in the home. Come back again at different times of the day to check for external changes in the environment (note the wind direction).
  10. Making a positive impression on sellers can be important. Sellers often consider their personal impressions of buyers when making negotiating decisions.

Here are more tips to help insure you can start your home search with confidence and insights on the road to homeownership.

For buyers who have accomplished this preliminary groundwork, now comes the fun part … or is it? People view homes with varying degrees of enthusiasm and vigor. Some buyers believe inspecting homes is fun and educational while others see it as frustrating or boring. Some will look at over thirty homes before finding the right one while others may only look at two or three. Although there is no single right method or number of homes to see, the suggestions here will help the viewing process go most efficiently. Learn more..