For many would-be home buyers, the hunt for their next home is the most anticipated portion of the home buying process.
Picture this: it's a sunny Saturday afternoon, and you're on a home tour with your real estate agent, going from house to house, getting a feel for whether you could make this house your next home.
By the end of the day, you've looked at several houses, and in looking back, the memory of the details of each gets a little cloudy.
With the average number of homes viewed in this type of market between nine and 11, buyers will often share that they begin to feel overwhelmed by the task of remembering the details and weighing the pros and cons of each house - and not letting their emotions get the best of them in making such an important financial decision; or becoming so overwhelmed that no decision gets made.
Having a simple house hunting checklist for each house viewed is one tool buyers can bring with them on their home tours to uncomplicated the process and give a quantitative and qualitative assessment of each home, to help in making their home buying decision.
Some key things to include on the checklist would, of course, be the basic stats of the home: address, price, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and square footage. It is said that "first impressions are lasting," so the next thing to assess is an honest first impression of the home: dislike, like, or love?
Trust the gut, they say. That first "gut check" will carry you through your tour, and you'll find yourself proving, or disproving, your gut for the rest of the time at the house. If you find yourself disliking the house, it will be a hard sell to find things that you love about it, and vice versa. The rest of the checklist will help to sort out that emotional "gut check" and give you a practical assessment of the home.
Make a list of the different elements of the home, and use the same rating system of dislike, like, or love. These elements would include the exterior condition, floor plan, kitchen, family area, dining area, laundry room, master bedroom, master bathroom, extra bedroom(s), extra bathroom(s), garage size, and lot.
Next, with the same rating system, list the features: kitchen appliance, laundry appliances, fireplace, patio/balcony, pool, a/c and heating system, security. After going through the home, note whether this house makes the short list: yes, no, or maybe.
Next, assess the neighborhood and surrounding area. The appearance of the neighborhood, traffic, security/safety, nearby schools, and if it is close to work, schools, transportation, stores, recreation/parks, and restaurants.
Now, taking everything into consideration, rate the house on a scale of one to five, with five being the highest. You only want to choose from the best houses, so you will begin to narrow your choices by only considering the highest rated houses on your search. It is well known that a confused buyer doesn't buy.
In rating the homes, the decision-making process becomes a lot less complicated and overwhelming.
Here's an analogy to consider: is it easier to choose from a menu with three dinners or 13? Of course, you say, three. Likewise, it is easier to decide to buy from a choice of three houses than it is from 13. In the home buying process, you're picking from the best of "your" narrowed-down best.
Here's an important part: give yourself the opportunity after walking through to articulate why the house will NOT work and write that reason down. After you've weeded through several homes and come down to a couple to pick from and everything seems equal, it wouldn't be the first time that the reasons NOT to buy outweigh the reasons to buy one house over the other.
A simple house hunting checklist will aid the home search experience by giving the home buyer the opportunity to uncomplicate the process and balance the emotional and practical elements of the home purchase. Happy hunting!