For many home buyers, house hunting is the fun part. You get to look through a number of different homes with the idea that one of them could become yours! However, if the search extends for days or weeks, you may feel a bit of fatigue, frustration or even dread.
Never fear: This is all part of the process of finding your dream home, and when you are making a purchase as large as this one, you should definitely weigh the options carefully. However, there are a few critical things you can do to simplify the house hunting process and lessen the stress. If this is your first time buying a home, the following home viewing checklist should help steer you in the right direction.
1. Rule out any home that is outside your budget.
Seriously — if the home is too much money, cross it off your list and do not even visit it. It may be fun to look at homes you can only dream of affording, but for the serious house hunter, this drains valuable time and energy (not to mention wasting the agent’s time). Unless you have a reasonable expectation that the owner may negotiate down a little on price, avoid homes that are too pricey for you.
2. Rule out homes that do not tick enough of your boxes.
By the time you start house hunting, you should already have a good idea of certain “must-haves” for your new home — for example, you need a minimum number of bedrooms/bathrooms, covered garage, open kitchen, etc. If you know a certain home on the list does not have enough bedrooms for you, conserve your energy: Cross it off the list before you start.
3. Establish a perimeter.
You may already have an idea of which neighborhoods you are interested in, or how far you are willing to commute to work or school. Try setting up a perimeter — if you need to do so, draw a circle on a map — and do not visit any homes that outside that boundary, at least for now. Try exhausting your options within your perimeter first; you can always expand the circle later.
4. Keep track of distinguishing features in each home.
Once you have seen more than 10 homes or so, they may all start to run together in your mind, and you may have difficulty remembering which home had which thing you liked. Take notes on each home you visit. If it helps, try making a comparison chart related to your list of needs and wants, as to which homes check off which boxes for you. When you are ready for a second look at one or more of these homes, you will be better able to recall which features appealed to you.
5. Ask before taking photos (but take them if you are allowed).
If you are in someone else’s home (that is, if it is not a new construction), be mindful that their belongings are still present, and they may have certain privacy needs when it comes to photos. However, most sellers still understand that you are trying to keep records of which homes might work for you, and photos can be a good visual to help with that. In most cases there should be no problem, but out of courtesy, ask first.
6. Bring no food or drink into the home.
If you are visiting an open house where refreshments are available, that is one thing; but for appointment-based showings, anything other than a closed bottle of water puts you at risk for causing damage to someone else’s property. Do not take the risk.
7. Walk through twice.
For each home you visit, we recommend doing a casual walkthrough first, just to get a feel for the place, then go through again more carefully, your comparison chart or notes in hand. This process not only allows you to get two separate impressions of the home, but it also helps you see things you might otherwise overlook.
8. Bring a tape measure.
If you know the dimensions of your furniture (and you should), when you find a home you really like, take measurements right then. If your furniture does not fit, and if your furniture is non-negotiable, you can take the home off your list and move on. If you leave uncertain, you may have to come back to take measurements, and this wastes valuable time and energy.
9. Check floors and ceilings.
Ceilings will reveal signs of leaks; floors will reveal signs of rot or infestation. During your second walkthrough, be sure to look both high and low, checking upper corners and baseboards. Look under carpets, if appropriate, to be sure there are no hidden signs of damage.
10. Take your second look at a different time of day.
Hopefully after seeing a few homes, you will be able to create a “short list” of homes that particularly interest you. When you are ready to narrow this list down, try driving by the homes at a different time of day than when you visited last. Neighborhoods often have a different vibe in the evening when people are home than during the day. Is the neighborhood social? Is it too noisy at night? Are there signs of suspicious activity?
When you are ready to begin house hunting in earnest, Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty is here to help guide your search. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call us at 404.237.5000.