When you are starting to house hunt you will be gung ho and want to see all the properties you find online that look interesting and are within your budget-ish.
There is a lot of information to digest about every property and you are going to view more than one. The experience of looking for your future home can change from being exciting to feeling overwhelmed and cause a great deal of anxiety.
The 1st time you visit a property you are really only focusing on the basics; floor plan, cosmetic finishes and overall condition. If you like what you see, your mind naturally moves into phase two ; imagining how your life would look in this space. If that phase feels good you’ll mentally note the property as “possibility”.
As your putting on your shoes to head off to the next appointment you’re already scanning your memory bank to recall what you noticed, good or bad about this property that you want to remember at the end of the day.
In 2019, Zolo (a popular real estate site) released survey results taken by over 1800 home buyers. That survey showed 69% of buyers only spent ½ hr – 1 ½ hrs. total in a home before buying it and not necessarily all of that time was in one visit. That is not much time to learn about what could potentially become one of your largest investments.
There are some things you can do however that will help you make the most of your viewing time, improve your focus and increase how much you are able to recall about each property at the end of the day.
1 Remove Distractions
Adult family members should only be joining you if they are going to be your partner in the purchase. And I know it’s tempting to take a friend along especially if you are a solo buyer or they have knowledge you think could be helpful, like carpentry for example, but don’t do it. Save their input for when you have narrowed down your choices to a select few properties.
I cannot stress this one enough. Leave the kids at home, with a friend or book appointments for when they are at school. Children are, by far, the biggest distraction of all. No matter the age, kids high-jack an enormous amount of your focus.
The baby becomes fussy. Toddlers are restless. Pre-schoolers are curious and want to touch everything. Grade schooler’s are attention seekers. Teen’s... everything is about them of course, lol. Every house you view they will tell you which room they want, what colour they want etc.
Only you and your significant other should be involved in the first visit to any property. Without distraction you can be aware of what all of your senses are telling you. What you see, hear, smell and feel when your at a property will guide you.
2 Time Management
If you know quickly a place is not for you, do a quick walk through then pull the plug on this viewing and continue on to the next property. On average the amount of time planned for each viewing is ½ hour.
When you waste time looking at a place just to satisfy your curiosity you are robbing yourself of extra time you may want to spend investigating in detail a property that you are truly interested in and your digesting useless information that will just confuse you at the end of the day when you’re trying to recall information about each of the properties you viewed.
3 Sensory Overload
Looking at a home may seem like a simple task but there is a ton of information to digest and remember about each property. Now multiply that by however many places you look at in a day and the amount you are able to recall about each property drops significantly.
Limiting the amount of viewings per day improves your memory recall for each home. So how much is too much? It’s usually on our way to the 5th property when people start asking “where did we see...” “what house had the...” type of questions. Because of that I think 4 is the magic number of viewings per day to avoid sensory overload.
If you’re from out of town sometimes it can be difficult to do that but again if you want to make the most of your time make 5 the absolute maximum for one day if you have 6 places of interest plan to stay 2 days. Your real estate agent may know of another place or two you may want to add to the list of places to view.
Finding yourself with some free time is a great thing when you are form out of town. You can drive around and familiarize yourself with the town and local amenities. And if you really liked one or two of the places you viewed you can re-visit and view them in more detail.
4 Take your time
Request to preview property when you have lots of time. Plan for at least 1 hour between when you think you will be finished viewing property and your next personal appointment.
Our lives are busier than ever these days and we seem to be ruled by the clock. Give your- self the gift of time for this task. If you discover you like what this home has to offer you’ll want to really look at, not feel rushed to take it all in because you have to pick the kids up, get back to work or have another meeting.
When you know time is limited no matter how hard you try it’s impossible to designate 100% of your focus on the task at hand, part of you is worried about the time.
5 Have the right Help.
Real estate agents in BC are not allowed to represent both sides, the seller and the buyer, on the sale of a property any more.
It’s true a listing realtor knows more about the property they have listed than a realtor who is showing the property but anything you want to know just ask. Your realtor will receive all documentation the listing realtor has available and do their best to dig up answers to what-ever questions about the property you may have.
A listing agent is still allowed to show you the property if you ask to view it with them (some will but many won’t) but it’s really not in your best interest to view a property with the listing agent. It’s actually a decision that could really bite you in the ass if you decide you want to buy this property.
The listing agent only works for the seller, everything they do is with the sellers best interest in mind and everything you say can and will be used against you. Listing realtors are obligated to share anything they learn about you with their seller.
Humans like to talk about themselves, explain things and share past experiences. Unless you walk into a viewing with tape over your mouth you cannot help but talk. And when the listing realtor asks you questions, which will happen so they know what information is important for you to know about the property, what then?
Having a real estate agent represent you simplifies your house hunting experience immensely. You will now have their time, area knowledge and real estate experience working with your best interest in mind. And your buying agent is obligated to keep your information confidential, share everything with them,speak freely about your wants wishes and desires. The more you share, the more helpful they can be in making your experience the best it can be.