You have scoured the internet listings. Maybe you have a list derived from homes your agent sent you to review. In some cases, you may have a mix of what your agent has sent and homes you have found using one of the websites that list homes for sale. Now you are ready to go see them in person.
There are 5 things you need to know before you go out the door.
- Your agent has to review the list to make sure they are all actually still for sale
- Your agent has to make sure he is aware of information about each home and neighborhood.
- Your agent has to follow the showing instructions in obtaining permission for you to view each home.
- Your agent has to put together a route that will get you from the starting point to the last home
- Your agent has to keep you on schedule to reach and view each home on the list.
Viewing homes is not just a matter of driving to an address of a home that is for sale and walking through the front door and taking a look around. It first must be verified that the home is still for sale and available for viewing. It is possible that a home that was listed as “active” when you last looked on line, has gone under contract. Some websites are not updated and homes showing for sale have actually been sold long before they caught your eye. If you have found a home in one of the many vanity magazines that claim to have homes for sale, chances are that nothing you have seen is still on the market (those magazines actually are for the benefit of agents hoping to list other homes). Homes that are for sale, may or may not be occupied. If they are occupied, the resident usually likes to know that someone is coming to view the home. If they are vacant, it is usually easier to get in the home and view it. Your agent will have to “scrub” the list and remove those that are not really available.
Once the list of homes you want to see has been reduced to homes that you can see, your agent has to review the pertinent data about the home. You may have questions about square footage, the approximate tax bill, the schools in the area as well as where is the closest shopping, etc. Your agent has to be able to answer your questions. In most cases, these general questions are part of your weaning method and getting back to you will prolong the process. At this stage, you are subconsciously evaluating each home. Answers that make it easier to include or remove a home from your final list are very important. Your agent should be aware of traffic patterns and possible commuting routes. Understand, in urban areas, finding a parking space is not a skill, it is the luck of the draw.
Every listing agent has been directed by the seller when the home is available to be shown. These instructions vary from home to home. There are lots of reasons that homes may not be available when you wish to view them. If people are still living in the home, they are selling a house but they are also doing their best to maintain some semblance of order while that occurs. The listing agent includes showing instructions in the MLS listing. The instructions are not always finite. Often, the listing agent uses the services of a third party showing scheduler. A call must be made and permission granted for the time frame your agent plans for you to view the home. These “showing windows” have a beginning time and are usually confined to a 60 minute slot. If a home is vacant, you often have a great deal more latitude in times. The showing permission has to be followed. It is very important that you stay on schedule. If a home you visit is impressive enough that you want a longer look, have your agent schedule a second showing later that day or the next day. Don’t linger and throw the viewing schedule off. You may not be able to see all the homes on your list and you will never know if the one you missed would have been “the one”.
In a perfect world, you would start at point A and move systematically to point B and so on. Showing homes just doesn’t seem to work that way all of the time. Often, available showing times create the need for a back and forth flow to your tour. It is up to your agent to orchestrate this journey. Each home and each availability time has to be put together like pieces of a puzzle. When complete, you will have a good picture of which homes you will visit and the order in which you will see them. Nobody is perfect and a system with so many variables can cause the best of us to falter. Your agent’s mission is to get you into each home you wish to see. Usually, that happens, but sometimes things change and you end up standing at a front door and discover it is not available to be seen. It happens to the best of us. Keep in mind, the seller can restrict showings when ever they want. If you can’t get in, move on to the next home on the list.
Sometimes when viewing homes, you discover that the listing agent was a magician with a camera. Other times, when viewing homes you will marvel at a listing agent’s talent in describing the home. When viewing homes, what you see is what you get. Your agent has no control over the accuracy of photos presented or description used by the listing agent. Your agent is responsible for looking at the home and attempting to see anything that needs further investigation. Always remember that you are the buyer. You will be the one living in the home. If you ask the agent “What do you think?”, you are asking too broad of a question. You can ask about lots of things regarding the home or the area. Your agent (in most cases) will not be moving in with you, so “what they think” is not something they can easily answer. It is your job to walk around, get a feel for the layout, visualize your self and your things (furniture, etc). Most of the time, this will be accomplished rather quickly. Make notes and wait until you have seen all the homes before making a final yes decision about any of them. Remove any home as soon as you know it does not work. Stay on schedule. Your goal was to see a certain number of homes to make a good evaluation. You have to stay on schedule to accomplish your goal.
Viewing homes properly entails planning. If you follow your agent’s direction, you will have a successful day. You may not find the home of your choice, but you will definitely remove possibles from your list. Remember, it takes time to prepare and preparation is necessary for you to see the homes you wish to see.
Enjoy the journey, take notes and stay on schedule. Your home is just waiting for you to come by.