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How to House Hunt: 6 Pro Tips for Making the Most of Your Time in Each Home

How to House Hunt: 6 Pro Tips for Making the Most of Your Time in Each Home
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Home.com Contributor

If someone tells you that buying a house in the current market is a marathon, you have my permission to give them some side-eye. A more apt analogy is that homebuying right now is a sprint – a very long one that can last up to a year.

And how do you make it through that very long sprint? By wearing comfortable shoes…and warm layers, and carrying a couple of tools, and wearing socks. You definitely don’t want to forget the socks.

Let me explain.

How to House Hunt Key Takeaways:

  • Dress comfortably so you can explore the entire property
  • Wear socks and easy shoes
  • Take notes and photos
  • Bring a flashlight, tape measure, face mask, and hand sanitizer

How to house hunt like a pro

We all know the housing market is hot right now – as in, the hottest it’s ever been. There are more homebuyers than there are homes available, which means you might not get an offer accepted right away and you might have to look at a lot of houses.

Looking at all those houses takes stamina, and being prepared for that can make all the difference to your search. When you come ready to see every inch of a property, you can more confidently make the tough and very fast decisions the current market demands.

So I’m going to tell you six ways to gear up to go see a home.

What's in this Article?

Dress for the properties you’re going to see
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Layer up
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Wear socks
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Come prepared to take notes
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Bring a tape measure and flashlight
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Keep a face mask and hand sanitizer in your coat pockets
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Dress for the properties you’re going to see

How do you house hunt like a pro? Dress like a pro!

Buying a house is a big deal, so you might think formal dress – or at least business attire – is required when you see a property. And that’s fine if you’re looking at a new construction home on a small, pristine piece of land.

Typically, though, you’re going to want to go for a more durable outfit, especially if you’re looking at fixer-uppers.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve shown up to a listing in a sweatshirt and sneakers and heard my clients remark on how cool it is that I’m so casual.

I’m not casual for comfort, though. Those sweats are strategic. When you get one 15-minute window to tour a home, you’ve got to be willing to get dirty. As in, poke-your-head-in-the-crawlspaces-and-venture-into-the-ancient-basement dirty. You can’t do those things in heels or a tailored suit (at least not easily).

Things to think about when you’re dressing for a house hunt:

Are you looking at waterfront or rural properties? Does the house have acreage? If so, wear boots so you can walk around the entire parcel of land to see its condition.

As you’re walking the property, consider the following:

  • Is it cleared?
  • Is it wooded?
  • Is it swampy?
  • Are there signs of animal habitats to consider?

These are things you want to find out before you make an offer.

And it’s going to be hard to look at the nooks, crannies, and quirks of the property if you can’t walk around comfortably or are worried about messing up your clothes.

Layer up

You never know what the climate is going to be inside a home. If a house has been vacant for a while, the heat might be turned off or it might be turned down to a cool 50 degrees. In either case, you’re not going to last long on a home tour if it’s the middle of winter and you don’t have a coat.

On the other hand, the heat might be set really high if the property is still occupied, and you want to be able to take a layer off instead of sweltering while you try to decide whether you can see yourself in this home.

Same goes in the summer. If the AC is turned off in a vacant house in the middle of July, you’re going to have a tough time focusing while you mop sweat from your brow. And if the AC is cranked to an Arctic freeze, you’ll be glad you thought to bring a jacket or sweater.

Wear socks

This might seem like a strange point, but you should always wear socks when you go see houses. Sellers and listing agents often request that buyers remove their shoes before they walk through, and you don’t want your feet to be freezing the whole time you’re there.

Also, do you really want to walk through someone else’s house, where many other people have tread, in your bare feet? Probably not.

While we’re on the subject of footwear, opt for shoes that are easy to slip on and off. It’s not a great look when you’re taking up precious tour time lacing and unlacing a heavy pair of combat boots (take it from someone who’s been there).

Come prepared to take notes

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a pen-and-paper person or you prefer to take notes on your phone. However you choose to do it, make sure you have something on hand to jot down notes, likes and dislikes, questions, and concerns.

Things to write down on during a house hunt:

  • Will my king-sized bed fit into this room?
  • Will we be able to move our dresser up these narrow stairs?
  • Once you’ve seen a space, you’ll probably need to go home and take some measurements, so keep a running list of the follow-up you need to do.
@itsthatrealestatechick

Not gonna lie- it always makes me so uncomfortable being in a house with cameras everywhere. We can’t actually discuss anything while on property. #realtorsoftiktok #realestate #marylandcheck

♬ Tainted Love – Soft Cell

Bring a tape measure and flashlight

Going back to the question of whether your furniture will fit in the house, it’s always a good idea to have a tape measure on hand. That way you can take measurements of all the rooms and map out what will fit and what won’t. Buying a house is expensive as it is, you don’t want to have to buy all new furniture on top of it because you didn’t get to measure the space.

A flashlight is another must-have. You can use the flashlight on your phone in a pinch, but having an actual flashlight with a stronger beam or wider arc can be helpful for looking into attics, crawlspaces, basements, and outbuildings to scope out their condition. It’s also useful for looking underneath sinks and investigating for signs of leaks and water damage.

Keep a face mask and hand sanitizer in your coat pockets

I recommend keeping these items on you rather than in your car because you don’t want to waste time running back for your mask when you have limited time to see the house. If there are other buyers scheduled to see it after you, there’s a strict schedule and you want to make the most of every second you have.

Keeping your mask on hand is easy and efficient, and it’s one less thing to think about as you’re going from house to house.

The bottom line

House hunting is tough in today’s market, so you want to do everything you can to give yourself an edge. Coming prepared will allow you to focus on the properties, zero in on their potential, and make swift, confident decisions about which home you want to buy.

Further Reading

Fairway Advantage Pre-Approval is the Key to a New Home

$15k First-time Homebuyer Tax Credit 2021: All Your Questions Answered