The home buying process can be long and stressful, so while looking for a home, it’s important to stay organized. After seeing dozens of homes, the details of each may start to blur together. You’ll forget which ones are close to the subway, or which one had the bathroom you liked. Staying organized will ensure that you’ll be able to figure out which homes are going to make it to the top of your list. Here are some of our home buying tips to make the process a little easier.
1. Find an agent and set a new home budget.
This might seem obvious, but the very first thing you need to do in your real estate search is to find an agent with whom you feel comfortable. Spend some time interviewing agents—you want to make sure that the agent understands you and your needs. He or she will help you set your budget and inform you on what you can expect to find within that budget. Most importantly your agent’s understanding of current market conditions, New York City neighborhoods and your own needs will allow you stop wasting time browsing online listings and put your time to better use by actually visiting homes that are hand-picked just for you. Even if you’re doing a lot of reading online, a good agent is your best resource during your house hunt.
2. Figure out what your top priorities are.
You might need two bedrooms, but a second bathroom might be negotiable. It’s unrealistic to expect to find a home that has everything you want, but if you know what your top priorities are, it’ll be easier to sort through listings. That said, don’t immediately rule out a home because it doesn’t have everything you need. The way a home is set up when you see it for the first time can always be changed. An office can become a second bedroom, or the living room can be partitioned for office space.
3. Think about travel time.
This is especially important if you’re moving from one neighborhood to another, or moving to a city for the first time. Chances are, when you move, you’ll have to find a new gym or grocery store and think about how close they’ll be to your home. How far away are you from the nearest subway or bus stop? Will it be easy to get to work, or will you have to transfer subway lines four times?
4. Take notes.
The easiest way to take notes is to make a list of pros and cons, but the more detailed your notes are, the better. Using your list of wants and needs, rank each place you’ve seen on a scale of 1-10. Later on, you’ll be able to lay out all your notes and photos from the homes you’ve toured. You can use your scoring system to figure out which homes are at the top of your list and which ones you won’t be revisiting.
5. Take photos and videos.
Assuming you have permission, make sure to take lots of photos and videos. Although the home listing will likely have photos, if you take some yourself, you’ll be able to emphasize what you do and don’t like in the home, since you’re the photographer. Even better than photos are videos, which will give you a better sense of the space. Take a walk-through video, so when you’re reviewing the property at home, you’ll have a virtual tour of the space. Make sure you get all the little details—look high and low when checking out a room and don’t just walk in and out while snapping a quick picture.
6. Explore the neighborhood.
After seeing a home, spend time in the surrounding neighborhood to determine if you can see yourself living there. Head to a neighborhood spot for brunch after an open house, or go sit in the local park. Read up on the neighborhood online, but make sure to check out the local spots in person. If you’re thinking about staying in your new home for a long time, will the neighborhood still be suited to your future needs?
7. See the home multiple times, and at different times of the day.
Seeing a home once probably isn’t enough to determine if it’s the right fit for you. Make sure to go at least a few times to ensure that it’s a place you can see yourself living in. If you go at different times of the day as well, you’ll be able to see the light in the space, or hear how noisy the street is. Some rooms that you may have remembered disliking when you saw the home for the first time may hold more appeal if you see it at another time of day, or if you’ve had more time to think it over.
Looking for a home that’s right for you will take some time and effort, but by following these seven tips, you’ll remember the details of each home you visit and will be confident you made the right choice when you make your final decision.