You’ve figured out your price range, gotten pre-approved for a mortgage, and completed your online research of the inventory in your chosen area.  Now it’s time to get out from behind the laptop and into some houses!

To avoid, exhaustion, confusion, disappointment and hunger, here are a few practical tips:

  1. Have your agent schedule the occupied homes early in the day and the vacant homes toward the end.  Multiple-house viewing tours can quickly fall behind schedule.  Saving the vacant homes for later will spare you the stress of rushing to arrive on time so as not to inconvenience the occupants/seller.
  2. Steer clear of open houses. Granted, it is tempting to simply pop in to check out a place you know in advance to be open to the public for a certain period of time on a certain day.  Nonetheless, if at all possible, private showings are worth the time and effort to arrange.  When seeing a house privately, you don’t have the distractions of other attendees and their random conversations.  It also allows you to speak freely and interact with your agent in an unguarded manner.
  3. Be sure to see at least one home that is a good bit above and one home that is a good bit below your approved range. It is important for you as a buyer to get a sense of what either end of your range looks like.  For example, if the top of your range is $500K, looking at a $550K list price home and a $450K list price home will give you a sense of the quality of home difference of the higher price and the trade-offs of the lower priced home.  Just focusing on the $500K houses won’t provide that perspective.  Remember, you are seeking information and these are good parameters to file away for future reference.
  4. Bring a folder or a portfolio style notebook to gather up all brochures, surveys, amenity sheets, etc. from each house toured. Buyers lose track of details after 5 houses, so grab what you can to re-orient yourself later.
  5. If possible, try to ride with your agent from home to home so that he/she can give you neighborhood info as you travel and you can share your impressions of the homes as your tour plays out.
  6. Make sure to wear slip on shoes for the day. In many homes you are asked to remove your shoes.  Laces and complicated footwear can get tedious after several homes viewed.
  7. Bring a small water and a snack and be sure to take a “nature break” before your first appointment.
  8. Don’t be surprised if you fall in love with a home on your tour.  If so, consult with your agent for best strategy on an offer.  Bear in mind that if you love the house enough to make an offer, chances are others will too.  Be ready!

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