Now for the fun part. Many people find that going to look at potential homes is the fun part of home shopping. Others find this to be the hard part. Either way, you will need to have an objective in mind when you finally decide to start looking. Without a plan of action, you can spend a lot of time searching and before long all the homes begin to look alike and it becomes not such a fun task.
Make a list
Before you visit your first home, make a list of the features and items that are important to you. First create your “dream list” – features that you want in a home if money is no object. Once you have this dream list, begin by ranking the importance of each item. This will give you a prioritized list of items that are important in your home search. Of course, money is always an obstacle, so once you have your prioritized list, go through and mark items as “needs” and “wants.” Now you have a more realistic list of items that you will need to check of as you are looking through a home. It is easy to become enamored with a home and forget to check for your “must have” items.
If possible, drive neighborhoods and areas you might like living in prior to looking at homes. Check out the schools, parks, local shopping, and nearby entertainment venues. Make sure you are moving into a neighborhood that you will be happy with long term. If you come across a home with a sign out front that you are interested in, do NOT call the number on the yard sign. That Realtor represents the seller. Give me a call so I can make an appointment to show you the home. I will look out for your best interests, help you negotiate the contract, and make sure your needs are taken care of in a complex real estate transaction.
Pay attention to detail
It is easy to get caught up in the looks of a nice home. A well decorated home catches your eye. But it is important to pay attention to not so noticeable details such as the roof, foundation, exterior cracks, and drainage. Those are important items of any home that can seriously impact the resale value when you go to sell it. A good home inspector will catch those things during inspection, but wouldn’t it be better to know about them before making an offer? Don’t get caught up in the thrill of a new home and forget to watch for important details that can affect the cost of home ownership and later the resale value.
Look at the Floor Plan
Odd floor plans can be interesting and unusual, but can be difficult to sell when you get ready to upgrade to your next home. Some people like odd floor plans, but it really narrows your market when it comes time to sell. Do you prefer open kitchen/living room layouts? If so, your Realtor needs to know before scheduling showings so they can narrow down the ones that don’t fit your criteria.
You may end up seeing several homes during your search, and soon they can all become a blur. I recommend printing out a sheet on each home and taking notes as you walk through. Write down your favorite features, questions you might have, and things you didn’t like. This will help jog your memory later as you consider which home to make an offer on.
The real estate market in Oklahoma has been strong for a long time, and homes are valued fairly. Very seldom will you come across a “deal,” and even then most “deals” are snatched up by cash buyers who don’t need to qualify for a loan. The buyer competition is strong in Oklahoma, so it’s crucial to be realistic when making an offer on a house. HGTV has dramatically skewed buyer’s perception about what it takes to buy a home. Don’t let the glitz and glamour of (not-so-reality) TV fool you. If you have to finance your home, chances are you’ll have to get an appraisal. Which means the home must be in safe, sound, and stable condition for the bank to loan money on it. A “fixer upper” does not always meet this criteria, and therefore would not qualify for a loan.
Low balling an offer is not realistic either. Sellers who are working with a Realtor are every bit as educated about their home value as buyers. And they’re not going to be willing to sell their home for less than fair market value. Submitting a low-ball offer can upset a seller, and cause them to not take you seriously. This can be detrimental to your side when attempting to negotiate. A successful transaction is when both parties feel they got a fair outcome.