While it can be fun to just head out in a direction to see where you end up, looking for a home can be the most frustrating experience of your life if you do not have the right tools for the journey.
I work with a lot of first time home buyers who come to me and say they just want a house and it has to have four bedrooms and two bathrooms. Oh and I want to live near shopping and the New Jersey Transit Train line to New York City.
When I started in Real Estate several years ago I would put them in the car and we would go look at places. Wow what a waste of time for my clients and for me. My clients ended up looking at houses from Bridgewater to Clinton, Ranches and Colonials, large lots and small lots. We had to go back a few times to check on things like would the bookcase fit in the den or did it have crown molding in the dining room. Now I know why people should use an experienced agent when looking for a new home.
With this in mind I now have a list of five things I suggest people ask their agent to bring with them so we can properly see a home and make an offer on a property as soon as we find the right one.
- A Flip video camera. Flip is the easiest way to record your thoughts and impressions of each new place we see. After a day of looking at houses most people have a hard time remembering whether the third one was the one with the great dining room or the pool in the back. Or was the fourth one the one with the great family room or was that the one where we liked the backyard? It also makes a nice memory of the first time you saw your new home. Some second level decision makers may want to see your home before you make an offer and we can email them the video for their advice.
- A spiral notebook for your notes. Each house has many of the needs and wants for you search. A spiral notebook will keep everything in one place so you can go back and look at your notes in case you are on the fence about more than one place. A list of things you need in a home is a great way to stay on track.
- A 25 foot tape measure or a laser measurement tool. When you want to measure for possible carpet or paint the longer tape will be a blessing even for smaller places. I also have a laser with me when we go out. It is faster and easier to get basic room sizes.
- At least two flashlights. Basements, crawl spaces, places that have no power or lights (foreclosures are famous for this) are all reason to carry good quality lights with you when you head out.
- GPS – Yes the agent knows how to get to the home but by having a GPS available the buyer can find out exactly how far the home is from work, shopping and entertainment.
So your agent has the right stuff with them, what three things do you need to bring as a buyer?
- A prequalification letter from your bank. It will be needed to make an offer on any place you like. If you are paying cash you need three months of bank statements showing the funds have been seasoned.
- The contact information for your attorney. If the seller likes your offer we can go to attorney review as soon as possible and get the deal done for you.
- Your checkbook. When we place an offer the seller will almost always want a good faith deposit which it placed in escrow.
Even in this challenging market, the good places go fast. If you are prepared when you go out to look, you will see results when you are ready to buy.