The house hunting process can often times make the whole “moving” element seem like a breeze. Finding a new home can easily eat up all your free time and turn into a full time job itself, if you let it. By putting a little bit of added effort into your preparation, you can stay in control of your open house visits and save yourself time in the process.
Start with Your Research
Whether you have enlisted the help of an agent already or still flying solo, as soon as you start finding your potential home listings, make a spreadsheet to keep all the information in one place. Group your listings by location according to different tabs – you can label them using items such as zip code, town/township, school district or neighborhood. If you can, schedule your showings in each specific location back to back on the same day, saving yourself the hassle of traveling all over the town and wasting excess time. Include a column with the homes full address, one with the contact information of either the seller, if listed for sale by owner, or the agent selling the listing. Before you go see the actually homes, get information on each home’s listing price, square footage, and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms if possible; add columns for each data item as well.
Document Your Visits
To prepare for showings and open houses, add a column for a photo(s) of each home, one for ‘pros’ to highlight any particularly noteworthy qualities about the properties, and one for ‘cons’ to make note of any issues you may find as well. Make sure you bring your cell phone with you to the showings; use it to take a picture of each home that will help you easily identify and remember it when reviewing your list. You may want to also record photo documentation of any ‘pros’ or ‘cons’ items; perhaps one home has an exceptional view, for example – a visual reminder is often the best way to remember it. As soon as you return from seeing a home, populate your spreadsheet with any relevant information you collect from above. Be sure to delete any listings no longer in the running after you see them.
The biggest benefit of using a spreadsheet and columnar labels during your house hunt is that you will be able to organize your listings any way you want. You can give each home a numerical rating based on your level of interest in it, or sort them according to their price. As you move forward in your process, you can add even more detail to your spreadsheet and use it to keep all your financing, inspection, appraisal and offer information in one place.