When it comes to buying or selling a home, time is of the essence, and not just in terms of what the market is doing. For scheduling, the rule of thumb is six weeks between reaching a purchase agreement and signing the final paperwork at closing. For those taking part in both sides of the equation in separate transactions—selling their own home and purchasing another—juggling timelines can get a bit dicey. When this happens, buyers may need to go on a house-viewing “blitz,” seeing as many homes as possible in a short period of time.
This practice can be beneficial for the buyer—being exposed to many properties quickly can help them understand what they’re looking for faster, while rapidly becoming familiar with inventory and neighborhoods. There are also cons, primarily because looking at several houses in a few days or a week can leave a buyer feeling dazed and confused, forgetful of each home’s features and drawbacks. It’s sort of like driving a car along a familiar route, where you vaguely remember the journey, but none of the specifics.
To mitigate this forgetfulness, it’s vital to jot down notes while touring homes. While you can access the home’s full set of data online, only an in-person experience can give you the visceral, sensory-rich experience you need to gauge if a home is “The One.” During the tour, on printed MLS info sheets or in a notebook (notetaking apps may prove too time-consuming or distracting), keep track of:
- Unusual or unique features in the home, like a remodeled half-story with a spa-worthy master bathroom, or a built-in pizza oven.
- Design and décor elements that will help you fully recall the home—an oddly-shaped salmon-hued closet, or a Jimi Hendrix-themed man cave.
- Layout perks or flaws: a staircase to the upper level only accessible through a first-floor bedroom, for example.
With smartphones, it may be tempting to catalog tthe entire home through your own eyes; however, privacy laws in Minnesota restrict photography by a potential buyer in a home for sale. Instead, limit your photos to interesting elements in the home, or architectural features and rely on the seller-provided images posted in the MLS. And be careful if you do snap a few shots: studies have shown that the act of taking a picture takes us out of the moment, and the moment is crucial in home-buying! If possible, tour the house first to get a feel for it, then go back to take pictures of notable features.
A unique checklist or ratings sheet for each home can come in handy, too. FearlessHomebuyer.com offers a downloadable PDF to rate properties individually, with some room to take notes.
Whatever process you choose, remember to take the scenic route—pay attention to your surroundings and process mental cues to help you visualize the property later.