Some people saying house shopping sucks. Others who enjoy the challenge say it’s exciting and rewarding. It’s okay to search the MLS listings or even Zillow, but when it comes time to physically look at houses, we hope you’re using a buyer’s agent as mentioned in lesson 5 of this course – Working With (or without) a Realtor. Having an agent on your side will avoid a lot of mistakes even the most seasoned home buyers might make.
One real estate pamphlet we reviewed in preparing this course suggested that there are three types of house shopping – online, open houses, and with an agent. To that we’d like to add drive-bys. Burn a little gas. Drive down streets you’ve never been on before. Look at your GPS and find roads you didn’t know existed. You’ll be amazed how many houses you’ll find that are for sale but not listed online. Although no realtor will admit it, agents sometimes “forget” to list houses in the MLS.
No matter how perfect it might seem, never, ever, ever buy the first house you look at. You’ll be kicking yourself in the asphalt if you buy the first house you see then find several others that might’ve been better. Purchasing a home is not an impulse buy! No matter how perfect the house is, don’t buy the first one you see. Continue looking at other homes. If the first one is right for you, then the other houses you look at will fail in comparison. It’s perfectly okay to fall in love with a house and make an offer on it, but only after you’ve viewed several other houses. The houses you don’t like will simply confirm that the first one is the one you can’t live without.
Open houses are an excellent way to view multiple houses but remember the most obvious facts. Realtors and/or the homeowners will most likely “stage” the house. The furniture will be arranged in the most perfect spots. The lamps, wall hangings, and knickknacks will add the perfect touch of home. Unless the house is being sold completely furnished (which few are), try to imagine the rooms completely empty. Will your widescreen TV look as nice in the living room as the one currently there? Will your dining room table fill the room the way the one being displayed does? Try to visualize your furniture and furnishings in the home. If need be, take pictures of every room so you can view them when you get home.
Don’t be afraid to inspect everything during an open house. Pull back the drapes or blinds and see what type of windows are in the room. In colder climates, the windows should be at least double pane. If there are rugs over wooden flooring, pull back the rug as much as you dare to make sure the rug isn’t hiding something. Rugs can be used to cover nasty stains or excessive wear and tear. In the kitchen and bathroom, look under the sink to see if there are any signs of leaking pipes or faucets. In the bathroom, check out the tub to make sure it isn’t stained, cracked, or just plain ugly. These are things that probably won’t be listed in an appraiser’s report!