Three Things to Keep in Mind When Visiting Homes

Note: This is a chapter in my new ebook called The Ultimate Guide to Buying (and then Selling) Your First Home.  I will post a chapter a week.  If you like what you read, you can pick up a copy here for the price of a candy bar!   Buy a candy bar or be a real estate guru!   This one is about is advice on what to keep in mind when visiting homes and continues the story from the previous chapter found here.

I was excited the next morning as I waited for Steve and Sally to meet at the first property as one of my favorite things to do as a Real Estate agent is to show homes.  Sally had told me that the two of them had dreamed about the possibilities of making a property their home.   I told them both that it will be especially gratifying when they find a home that marks off most of the items on their list.  Most likely, I told them we would look at several homes with none of them fitting the bill for them.  Once you find a property that is perfect, there is no better feeling.  However, I did tell them there are some things to keep in mind when visiting homes.  Here are three of them.

1. Showmanship –  I reminded them that selling a home is as much presentation as it is material facts about the property.   Many agents will go out of their way, as they should, to present the home in the best light for potential buyers.  A home can have hidden defects not easily visible when viewing a home so keep this in mind as you visit homes.  A home might look stellar when you visit it, but you should always do due diligence and have a home inspection done during the option period, which is a period of time you have to consider the purchase before going forward with a contract.   Home inspectors will go over the home with a fine-tooth comb to find all the hidden defects.  You will be able to put in an amendment during the option period requesting repairs be done to the house.   It is just a good idea to keep all this in mind as you are viewing homes, so you can set your expectations accordingly.    I told them it was important not to fall too in love with a home too quickly before knowing if the home had any hidden defects.  They both agreed to keep this in mind as we looked at homes.

2. Privacy –  Next, I told the young couple that many homes they will visit will have owners currently living there and the sellers have made the difficult decision to open the home to potential buyers.   I warned them that I have seen buyers do some questionable things when viewing some people’s homes and I expected all my clients to respect the sellers’ privacy.    I told them. “It is always a good rule of thumb to respect the owners’ privacy and just walk through the home without looking through desk drawers, medicine cabinets, kitchen cabinets, etc.   None of the items you can find by opening anything in a home is worthy of your inspection. Owners are due the respect required by potential buyers and listing agents track who has been in the home through lock boxes and other means.   It is never a good idea to do anything beyond inspect the quality of the homes.  Let the sellers remain anonymous.   You are there after all to look at the home, not to snoop on the sellers.”   Sally looked troubled that anyone would be so coarse, which made Steve smile, although he agreed that it was best to leave the sellers personal things alone.

3. Cosmetic issues –  My last tidbit of advice was that many buyers look at the wrong things when viewing homes.  They tend to notice things like wall color, flooring condition, smells, paint jobs, etc.  I told the couple. “It is a good idea to keep in mind that cosmetic issues are temporary and can be changed by you after purchasing the home.  Yes, it is work to do the cosmetic changes and we can work on how this affects your offer price, but you will always add your own touches to a home no matter how good, or bad, the cosmetic issues.   I always tell buyers to focus more on things like room size, floor plans, size of the backyard and for visible issues with structural issues, like cracks in the wall or visible shingles eroding on the roof.   You should make sure the home works for you from a practical standpoint first.  You can then focus on how you might change the cosmetic aspects of the home.”  Sally said that she though homes were supposed to be present well and it was difficult for her to imagine other colors, or a different kind of flooring. Steve nodded his agreement.  I told them that if a seller does not present the property as well as they should, it should not hinder them from looking at the property as a “diamond in the ruff.”   “Yes, it is difficult to visualize the home the way you wanted it, but it is never a good idea to dismiss a home based on its looks alone.  It is always best to make the effort to see the home as your own, especially if it is a seller’s market with homes being few and far between.”

With that, we went into the first house.  Over the span of the next two weeks, we looked at a total of seven homes.  With the last home, Sally had a difficult time letting it go.  It was a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom house with a large den and a very nicely laid out backyard covered patio.   The sellers wanted $173,000 for the property.    There were some many things that Sally loved about it even though it was not perfect.   Steve said he liked the house and wanted to make an offer on it. Sally agreed.   Our next task then was to put together an offer for the home.    There were several considerations when putting together an offer.   I started off with the three main ones.