Last week, I detailed how to start the process of purchasing a home. I linked it here in case you missed it! Now, onto the fun part of home buying which is shopping around for the perfect home. I wanted to title this post, “Window Shopping” but thought it might be confusing. When my cousin and I were little, our Mom’s would bring us to the mall to “window shop” aka look but we aren’t buying anything today. My mom took me to LA when I was like ten years old and we went to do just that on Rodeo Drive. We went into Jimmy Choo and my Mom turned her head for one minute and I was putting a display shoe on my ten year old foot. She was MORTIFIED. I can remember it like it yesterday and she made it very clear to me that “window shopping” on Rodeo literally meant don’t touch anything. I felt like viewing homes for sale was much like “window shopping” in that you have to be imaginative and it’s best not to touch anything haha.
After we hired our realtor, she tailored our personalized portal with homes in the specific area that we wanted within our price range. From this personalized portal, Mack and I selected a few homes to view at a time, usually grouped by location. Here are some points I found helpful when viewing homes for sale: (I should note here that I am no expert AND I am just speaking on my experience when home buying. I hope all of these posts are relatable and don’t make me sound like whatever the word would be for the Bridezilla of home buying.)
Limit the Amount to 2-3 a Day
I would recommend that you limit your daily home “window shopping” to 2-3 a day. Mack and I would only look on the weekends and it was tiring for me! I think the fact that my mind was on overdrive and busy imaging every single scenario from the moment we pulled up to a house had a lot to do with it. But honestly, attention to detail is something that I’ve always had a knack for. But sometimes it’s a little too much… I am willing to admit it.
“That house had a tiny crack in the ceiling, did you see it? It must have a bad structure!”
“In the master bathroom, there was a weird water mark on the wall. It probably had a pipe explode so I bet the whole house is water damaged.”
“There was a bug in the corner, this whole place probably has termits.”
I am not joking… I had all of these thoughts and probably said them aloud too. Bless my husband! He’s more level headed than I will ever be! Attention to detail is important but an overly critical mind that assumes the worst up-front was not helpful as we started to view homes. Once I addressed my overly critical mindset, viewing homes was much more enjoyable! BUT I was unable to look at more than 3 without becoming tired and quite frankly, hungry haha.
Location, Location, Location + Curb Appeal
We’ve all heard these sayings and I must agree! Location really is so important. Mack and I thought we loved this home online. The photos were perfect, it was below budget and just adorable. When we arrived we noticed it’s off a busy road and backs to low hanging power lines- like they were so close to the house. Hence, the affordability I suppose. We moved on from that one rather quickly. My point is you never really know until you go see it! As you arrive at each home, evaluate where it’s situated, what the neighborhood is like, how do the surrounding homes look? At another home, we pulled up and the across the street neighbors were out and there was a swing set in the front lawn and a lot of stuff in the driveway and garage. Granted, maybe they were preparing for an upcoming garage sale but just things to take of note of as you observe the outside.
Once inside, it’s important to look past cosmetic things that can be updated. Of course, we all want “move-in ready.” However, I learned quickly that depending on price range, that top to bottom perfect home might not exist but rather can be created with proper budgeting. This was at least the case for Mack and I. We paid extra close attention to location (proximity to beach), the layout of the house, and how “updated” it did look to ensure we didn’t have to gut an entire house and start fresh… we were not interested in a real-life Fixer Upper. Determine what’s most important and as Mack always said to me, “be decisive” (newsflash I am NOT)!
Just to give you some perspective, the house we purchased has a bottom floor that been totally renovated and we love it. The upstairs has old carpet and two bathrooms that are maybe the original that came with the house. However, we plan to budget and save to update the bathrooms and carpet at some point. And until then, it’s totally fine! We are so thankful to only have to do one or two little projects and not an entire house. And we got the exact location we wanted and are even waking distance to the beach. So there’s hope!
This is one final thing that helped me immensely when looking at home after home, weekend after weekend. I had a note in my phone where I would jot down little thing about the house we viewed categorized by address. This helped to review what was memorable, what I liked and what I didn’t about each place. Trust me, they will all start to run together in your mind. I found it very helpful to have some notes that allowed me to remember clearly what we’d looked at and what stood out most to me in that moment of looking.
If I haven’t bored you to death or completely scared you from looking at homes to buy, then we are getting somewhere haha. Next week, I will touch base on making an offer and the contracts associated with this process. Sounds so interesting, I know!
Wishing you a great week ahead. Thank you for spending some time with me today!