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  • Writer's pictureGretchen Schmidt

6 Little Known House Hunting Tips

Dirty Little Secrets for Buying a Home Series

Buying a home can be confusing. That’s why the tips and strategies you’ll find in my 8-week series will set you on the right path. It’s my own unique approach and a “behind the scenes” glimpse of what you should look out for and consider when starting your own search for a home.

Many first-time buyers look forward to finally visiting listings and stepping into an actual home they’ve seen only online.

At this point, you’ve gone through what seems like the hard part -- determining your needs and wants with your broker, talking to lenders, getting approved, lots of paperwork, narrowing down neighborhoods, plus time spent thinking, hoping, dreaming.

Now comes the fun part … looking at homes!

House hunting can be exciting and even fun at times, but you still need to have a strategy in place. That’s why the tips below can give you an added edge. It covers 3 things you should never do, and 3 things you should do. It’s that simple.

1.    DON’T take in too much at once.

House hunting is waaaay different than shopping for anything else in life.  For one, there are only a certain number of homes (generally about 6 to 8) that you should see during one outing. 


Not only will seeing more than six homes completely stress you out and wear you out, but seeing too much in one day means that it’s that much harder to narrow down your criteria well enough to know even what you are looking for!  You don’t want to overdo it on any day or it all becomes muddled and too confusing.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, go back to the drawing board and focus on your criteria and budget.  Unless your broker is planning to educate you on the current market, don’t waste time looking at homes in areas you’d never live in — that can add to the confusion and make this process much harder! 

2.    DO keep a Rolling “Top-3” List.

There is no way you can keep too many homes straight in your head. To relieve the burden of remembering every home, just keep track of the top three contenders. After you tour each home, rank it compared to the other homes you’ve already seen that are still available. Drop the homes that have been outranked from your memory. You are only buying one home. You only need to consider the top contenders, so don’t bother with the rest.

If there are multiple buyers, you can each have your own top-3 list. Most likely there will be a lot of overlap, and perhaps a different order. When you are all finally ready to make a decision, one or more of each person’s top-3 list could be already sold, bid too high, or have a devastating inspection report, so it will all work out.

3.    DON’T keep looking at a home that is an absolute NO. 

If you pull up to a home or walk in the door and realize there is NO WAY it will ever work for you, don’t bother touring the rest of the house. If there is a dealbreaker feature that you could never live with, there is no reason to keep looking. Your time is valuable. What is the point of critiquing the kitchen and yard when you’ve already realized the driveway is too steep and you would never live there?

When it’s a NO, turn around and move on to the next home.

4.    DO get some evidence and reminders on each home. 

Even if you limit the number of homes you see in one day, you’re still going to get confused and mix things up. Even those of you with photographic memories who tend to remember everything!!

That’s why we recommend taking photos of each home with your phone and make notes on paper or an app that can help you recall what you liked and didn’t like about a particular home. 

Write down specific and descriptive notes about each home and its surrounding factors, like schools, shopping, metro access, nearby parks and other amenities. Do this when you’re inside the home or immediately afterward so you don’t leave something off.

Both the photos and the notes will come in handy when you’re comparing your options later that day or the next day (depending on how fast you need to put in an offer). This is especially helpful when some of all of your top-3 homes become unavailable and you need to revise the list.

5.    DON’T take advice from everyone in your life.

When it comes to making one of the biggest purchases of your life, everybody in your life should NOT cast their vote or give their opinion.

Put your blinders on and “you do YOU.”  Limit any feedback you receive to people whose opinions you truly value and think will contribute a positive impact on your decision.

Say thanks but no thanks to friends and family who live in a different part of the country or haven’t bought a home in 30 years. They have no idea what the market is like in the Pacific Northwest. I’m really revealing a Dirty Little Secret with this one: We have a saying in the business – “Parents are deal killers.” This is not to say that you shouldn’t consult your parents, but just keep in mind that the market was likely totally different when they bought a home, and they may have bought a house for what a typical car costs today.

You are the one who will need to make the final decision. You are the one paying the mortgage. It doesn’t hurt to surround yourself with a few trusted friends or family members who can offer constructive feedback.  But limit your time with those who will confuse you and complicate your house hunting.

6.    DO take a second look. 

When it comes to making one of the biggest purchases of your life, this home deserves more than just one look-see.  You'll be amazed at what you missed or glossed over the first time around. 

Depending on the current market and how fast things are moving, try to go back to a home if you’re interested in making an offer.

It’s hard to take everything in at once, so when you have a good feeling (or doubts) about a certain property, don’t hesitate to schedule a revisit to validate any feelings you may have.

Take these six little-known house hunting tips to heart and you’ll be one step ahead of everyone else out there!  And, stay tuned for next week’s article, Answers to My Buyer’s Most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)!

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