House Hunting the Right Way: How to Conduct an Efficient Search
You’ve probably heard house hunting stories from friends or co-workers about looking at dozens or even hundreds of homes before finding the one. While you definitely don’t want to rush the process or make an emotional decision that you will regret later, you also don’t want to find yourself on an endless house hunting mission. With some forethought and a plan of action, you can avoid wasting time and find your dream home without a mind-numbing parade of homes and listings.
Know What You Want
The easiest way to drag out the house hunting process? Not knowing what you really want. While this may sound obvious, it’s common for first-time buyers in particular to begin their search without a good idea of what they absolutely must have and what they just can’t live with.
Before start house hunting, make three lists:
- Needs. These are home features that you are sure you can afford and consider non-negotiable. This list may include features like a good school district, a yard, at least three bedrooms, or close proximity to your job.
- Wants. This is your wish list and it will include features that you would like to have but can either live without or add to the home at some point in the future. This list may include your preferred type of flooring, a renovated kitchen, move-in-ready condition, or smart home features.
- Deal-breakers. This list will include features that you absolutely do not want in your home and items that you can’t change when you move in. Make sure your Realtor knows that you definitely do not want a home with a long commute or a busy road, for example.
These lists should be shared with your Realtor to streamline the process. If your agent doesn’t know what you’re looking for, you won’t get listings targeted to your needs.
Focus On What’s Important
It can be easy to focus on how the home is staged (or the current owner’s clutter!) and repairs that need to be made while overlooking the important features of the home. Many sellers will take steps to make their home as appealing as possible by ensuring it’s clutter-free and clean, but some go the extra mile to add details and staging that is designed to appeal to your emotions and draw attention away from defects, according to the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents. For example, staging can be used to cover floor damage or make a small room appear larger.
You also want to avoid focusing on cosmetic issues like dated furniture, wallpaper, or other issues that are easy to fix. As you look at listings, first compare the home’s features against your checklists. Does it have what you need? Are there any deal-breakers? When a property meets your needs and possibly has some items on your wishlist, your Realtor can arrange a showing. During your house hunting, here are some important areas that should have your attention beyond what will be covered by a home inspection:
- Room size
- Layout of the home. Walk through the home and imagine your day. Does the home have a natural flow from one room to the next?
- Windows. While you can add and change window placement and size, it’s not cheap. Look for a home with plenty of natural light where you will need it.
- Architectural details. You may appreciate a home with architectural details like crown molding and exposed beams.
- Laundry room. Many home buyers fail to consider the location of the laundry room until they’ve moved in. Is the laundry in a convenient area of the home or will you be going up and down steep stairs every day?
- Kitchen. You will spend a lot of time in the kitchen. While you may not find a home with your dream kitchen, you should still consider whether it has a gas or electric stove, whether there is enough workspace, the amount of cabinet storage, the number of sinks, and the overall layout of the kitchen.
- The neighborhood. You can’t change the neighborhood, so make sure you do your research and choose a location that meets your needs, whether you want an easy commute, close proximity to parks and recreation, a great school district, or quiet streets.
A great Realtor can help you find listings that meet your needs, arrange showings, and negotiate on your behalf, but the ultimate responsibility of finding the right home is yours. House hunting will go faster and smoother if you stay proactive in researching and reviewing listings, knowing what you want and need out of a home, and following up with your Realtor.
To help you narrow down your options during the house hunting process, put the internet to work for you. There are plenty of resources for finding accurate information on the real estate market. Along with searching for listings, you can research neighborhoods and even keep track of notes on homes you’ve viewed or want to tour.
The Dwellr app, for example, is run by the U.S. Census Bureau and it gives you info about cities and neighborhoods. It can use your phone’s GPS feature to instantly give you statistics for your neighborhood of choice ranging from commuting to education and demographics. Another helpful app is CrumbTracks, which lets you organize, annotate, and share pictures and videos you take during house hunting. Snap pictures of what you want to remember and communicate your likes and dislikes with your agent. You can create a file for every home with details like square footage, measurements of the bedroom, or that beautiful farmhouse sink you don’t want to forget.
The house hunting process can be a lot of fun — but it can also be exhausting and nerve-wracking. The good news is the right Realtor can make all the difference in streamlining the process to help you narrow down your options and find the home that will meet your needs today and in the years ahead. If you’re ready to start house hunting in Long Beach, Evergreen Properties and Investments is here to help with personalized service and expert advice to help you make a smart, informed decision. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you find your dream home in less time and with less stress.
From the Author: My name is Dan Barcelon and I believe that Real Estate can be one of the most valuable assets you’ll ever own. I’m dedicated to educating and guiding my clients on how to manage and leverage their homes to create an Evergreen legacy for themselves and their family. I primarily consult both home buyers and home sellers on reaching their personal and financial goals through Real Estate in the following cities of Southern California: Long Beach, Carson, Cerritos, Signal Hill, Torrance, Lakewood, Cypress, Downey, Bellflower, Norwalk, Wilmington, La Palma, and Artesia.
If you’d like to discuss if buying, selling, or investing in real estate is right for you at this time, feel free to reach out. You can call/text me at 562-270-5812, or you can e-mail me at danb@EPIrealestate.biz.