What are your strategies when shopping for a house?

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squirm
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What are your strategies when shopping for a house?

Post by squirm » Sun Oct 07, 2018 3:16 pm

Wife and I are shopping around for another house. I'm thinking we're probably buying at the top, but who knows.
Anyway, we're not even sure if we want to move or not, wife says it's up to me, she'll support my decision whichever way I decide.

Anyways, we have an agent, but as usual, they seem useless except for opening the door. She points out stupid things such as "oh, I like the paint". Who cares. I'm thinking of telling her to just sit down while wife and I look around, like I did with our last agent. Our last agent just brought her work and would sit quietly while we looked around. I can figure out where the bathroom and kitchen is.

Also, internet pictures on places like Zillow I noticed are becoming very deceptive. Agents are now having them go through a bunch of filters that basically block out the details, similar to hotel photos of rooms...basically they look pretty fake nowadays.

My strategy is, with a second looking we'll look more at the details and finish work and I've noticed that a house never looks as good as the first time. A third look I ask for the owners to be present and I try and pick their brain on the area, land, construction, etc. Even if they're liars we still benefit, I believe. Last weekend we spoke to the owners of a ahouse we looked at for a couple hours and walked around the house and hiked the acreage. Ended up not buying it. (The house we're in now, we had dinner with the owners and he showed me all the construction photos, hiked the property too, explained the well, etc.....very detailed guy, everything is even 2x6, felt better when bidding). A fourth look and I ask to meet any neighbors (if there are any).

Yesterday we went to an open house. The sellers agent was in the kitchen baking cookies (really they do that now?), playing soft music and incense all over the place. Talk about distracting, but more annoying was her goofy husband was there and had a personality of a doornail and kept looking at us. Next time if I see her, I'll tell her to leave him at home. Anyways I scrutinized the finish work on this house and told my wife it was like a high-school kid did the trim work as a project. Terrible. House looked worn too, kitchen had plastic counters (really a million dollar house with plastic!). Told my wife, if the kitchen is cheap, so will the rest of the house, so kept it quick.


The house we're currently living in, we looked at it five times, also brought a lunch one of the times, ate out on the deck that overlooks the valleys while agent did her work in the house, even had the one neighbor come over and spoke to him. Owner even said we could even spend the night but passed on that offer.

Anyways, what is your strategy?
Last edited by squirm on Sun Oct 07, 2018 3:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

boglemania
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Re: What are your strategies whren shopping for a house?

Post by boglemania » Sun Oct 07, 2018 3:27 pm

I scour public records on any CCR's, HOA rules, forthcoming zoning changes, flood plains etc etc. Definitely talk to neighbors. I have talked to up to 5. Kept us from buying a place once.
Sometimes the place is quite different in different seasons. Sloped driveway is PITA in winter but may not be apparent in summer. Some days or weeks may not be so good (local music festivals are loud and close but didn't realize that in the fall). Weekends the dirt track a half mile away is LOUD even though it is a half mile away.
I am more interested in the neighborhood/locale bc those things can rarely be changed. The neighbor works out of town but is home and off 1 wk at a time and either parties or is loud w/ projects.

jebmke
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Re: What are your strategies when shopping for a house?

Post by jebmke » Sun Oct 07, 2018 3:32 pm

I used to move a lot for work. We rarely looked at a house more than two times (plus the inspection). It has been a long time but I had a checklist.

Things that I must have
Things that I will not accept
Everything else.

I tried to sort out the first two lists even before seeing the house - not always possible.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

livesoft
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Re: What are your strategies when shopping for a house?

Post by livesoft » Sun Oct 07, 2018 3:34 pm

I wrote about it previously:
livesoft wrote:A list from a previous thread ….
http://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtop ... 24#p818024
livesoft wrote:When we started looking to buy, we went to library and checked out the books. It was pretty straightforward. I would not buy a book unless it was in the $1 rack at the used book store.

And the idea of "evaluating windows" is kind of silly. Here's my criteria when I was looking for a home.

1. On a cul-de-sac near the end, but not at the end and not at the beginning.
2. Good schools.
3. Within 3 miles of my office.
4. Short walk from a water features like a pond or lake.
5. No tile countertops.
6. No bathroom doors visible from a seated position in any public room like den, kitchen, living room, game room, study, etc.
7. 4 bedrooms, at least 3 bathrooms.
8. Brick exterior, not stucco, not wood.
9. No major street within 2 blocks. (i.e. Interior cul-de-sac).
10. No chance of flooding, so must be on a ridge or high ground with good drainage even during a hurricane.

Surprisingly, these criteria eliminate about 98% of homes, so if the realtor is doing their job, you won't have to look at more than 1 or 2 homes. Notice that except for the countertop thing, there is nothing special about windows, insulation, appliances, etc. Those are small things that you can change. You can't change location and add a large pond or good schools where none exist.
In addition, (some are redundant):

11. Not on a corner (same as #1).
12. If street has street lights, at the street light (free security lighting).
13. 3 ways out of the neighborhood (in case fallen trees block the roads).
14. Cannot hear any highway noise nor noise of major traffic arteries.
15. Nice walking possibilities for the dog; nice running/biking loops in several directions for you.
16. Consider site plan: Deciduous trees on south side to shield from sun in summer, open views on north side.
17. No nuisances (no electric wires, power lines. No visible water towers, cell phone towers, billboards, sewage treatment plants.)
18. Walk to schools (see #2).
19. Walk/bike to nearby grocery store, restaurants, drugstores, doctors, dentists (but not so close that one gets any noise or traffic in the neighborhood).
20. Home is offset from next door homes, so that windows do not face neighbors' windows, patios do not directly face neighors' patios.

And I agree with awval999, price-per-sq-ft is a good criteria, but once narrowed to a neighborhood the list I presented might help.
I'll add two more criteria from recent bogleheads threads:

N1. Water heaters should be located very near (such as above) critical bathroom showers and kitchens, so that one does not have to wait for hot water. Two heaters are better than one for redundancy.

N2. Washer/dryer in the laundry room should be located conveniently on the same floor as the master bedroom, but not so close as to allow noise in the bedroom. A good location is between the kitchen or mud room and the dining room. That way the dining room can be used for dumping/folding clothes from the dryer. Of course, one of the hot water heaters should be above the laundry room.
If you tell your buyer's agent not to show you any house that doesn't meet the specific location requirements, that'll speed things up and they won't waste your time. I only looked inside 2 homes in the course of 5 months. The first one I was tricked by my spouse; the second one we bought.
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adamthesmythe
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Re: What are your strategies when shopping for a house?

Post by adamthesmythe » Sun Oct 07, 2018 3:47 pm

If your buyer's agent is not responding to your requests, then get another one. There are plenty out there.

When I was looking, I downselected first from the MLS, then after a drive-by, and finally went for a look inside.

Unless the market is cold where you are looking, you are unlikely to get more than two viewings of a desirable house. Maybe not more than one some places. If you have looked enough and know your own mind you should be able to decide to offer after one or two viewings.

Some states have a no-penalty out during an inspection period.

Nissanzx1
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Re: What are your strategies when shopping for a house?

Post by Nissanzx1 » Sun Oct 07, 2018 4:07 pm

Agents are good for many things, but you are right to ask them for privacy when you don't want distractions. Never depend on an agent to find the properties for you (you'll miss out big time). Agents generally mean well but keep the expectations really low.

Every buyer has different motivations when looking. I'm personally looking for a steal, not a deal, a steal. I look past ugly colors, dirt, yard debris. Gotta have "good bones." I look for properties on market over 90 days. I look for vacant property with owners out of state. The house I'm sitting in was a foreclosure.

I take flashlights, notepads, etc whenever I'm looking at a property. I take pics to help me remember things. I pay attention to noises, dogs barking, etc etc.

Just depends what you are up for as far as swinging hammers and painting, etc. I'm seeing more and more people unwilling to do any sweat equity, so retail ready properties are bringing great money.

LarryAllen
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Re: What are your strategies when shopping for a house?

Post by LarryAllen » Sun Oct 07, 2018 4:17 pm

squirm wrote:
Sun Oct 07, 2018 3:16 pm
Wife and I are shopping around for another house. I'm thinking we're probably buying at the top, but who knows.
Anyway, we're not even sure if we want to move or not, wife says it's up to me, she'll support my decision whichever way I decide.

Anyways, we have an agent, but as usual, they seem useless except for opening the door. She points out stupid things such as "oh, I like the paint". Who cares. I'm thinking of telling her to just sit down while wife and I look around, like I did with our last agent. Our last agent just brought her work and would sit quietly while we looked around. I can figure out where the bathroom and kitchen is.

Also, internet pictures on places like Zillow I noticed are becoming very deceptive. Agents are now having them go through a bunch of filters that basically block out the details, similar to hotel photos of rooms...basically they look pretty fake nowadays.

My strategy is, with a second looking we'll look more at the details and finish work and I've noticed that a house never looks as good as the first time. A third look I ask for the owners to be present and I try and pick their brain on the area, land, construction, etc. Even if they're liars we still benefit, I believe. Last weekend we spoke to the owners of a ahouse we looked at for a couple hours and walked around the house and hiked the acreage. Ended up not buying it. (The house we're in now, we had dinner with the owners and he showed me all the construction photos, hiked the property too, explained the well, etc.....very detailed guy, everything is even 2x6, felt better when bidding). A fourth look and I ask to meet any neighbors (if there are any).

Yesterday we went to an open house. The sellers agent was in the kitchen baking cookies (really they do that now?), playing soft music and incense all over the place. Talk about distracting, but more annoying was her goofy husband was there and had a personality of a doornail and kept looking at us. Next time if I see her, I'll tell her to leave him at home. Anyways I scrutinized the finish work on this house and told my wife it was like a high-school kid did the trim work as a project. Terrible. House looked worn too, kitchen had plastic counters (really a million dollar house with plastic!). Told my wife, if the kitchen is cheap, so will the rest of the house, so kept it quick.


The house we're currently living in, we looked at it five times, also brought a lunch one of the times, ate out on the deck that overlooks the valleys while agent did her work in the house, even had the one neighbor come over and spoke to him. Owner even said we could even spend the night but passed on that offer.

Anyways, what is your strategy?
Could be just me but you sound sort of negative/difficult. You might try easing up a bit. I have a friend like you and then he had a heart attack before age 50. Let the Realtor do their job and just smile back if you don't like it. Or look for another agent who is helpful. A good buyer's agent will point out negative things in the house or location, to make sure you saw it, but not all will do that.

My strategy has been much simpler than you. I have bought and sold over 50 houses my self, with most of those being rentals, so of course my strategy for those is more dollar focused. However, for both our primary and for rentals I look at local schools first. For my primary residence I want schools that are 9's and 10's. My rentals are much lower but I'd rather have 3's and 4's for schools rather than 1's and 2's. I find schools is a great way to generally select a neighborhood.

For our current personal residence we bumped into it on an open house, was 5+ miles from where we were intending to buy, put in an offer within 24 hours, and 15 years later we still love it.

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Watty
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Re: What are your strategies when shopping for a house?

Post by Watty » Sun Oct 07, 2018 4:35 pm

squirm wrote:
Sun Oct 07, 2018 3:16 pm
The sellers agent was in the kitchen baking cookies (really they do that now?), playing soft music and incense all over the place.
When looking at houses if there are any artificial scents that pretty much eliminates the house from consideration. I figure they are trying to cover up pet or musty smells, both of which can be a major problem.

LiterallyIronic
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Re: What are your strategies when shopping for a house?

Post by LiterallyIronic » Sun Oct 07, 2018 5:14 pm

Holy smokes are people making it complicated.

Three visits to the house? Huge list of requirements? I just told our agent our max price and our requirements: near a freeway on-ramp and not in an HOA. Underground sprinklers preferred. We preferred two bathrooms, but couldn't get that in our price range.

We were quickly shown a house that worked, we put in an offer the day we were shown the house (for the first and only time) and closed a couple of weeks later.

Why be so picky?

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Re: What are your strategies when shopping for a house?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Sun Oct 07, 2018 6:02 pm

Suggest you purchase a plot of land, then custom build your own home. Then your complaints will be minimized.
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retiredjg
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Re: What are your strategies when shopping for a house?

Post by retiredjg » Sun Oct 07, 2018 6:25 pm

jebmke wrote:
Sun Oct 07, 2018 3:32 pm
Things that I must have
Things that I will not accept
Everything else.

I tried to sort out the first two lists even before seeing the house - not always possible.
This has been my approach too.

After that, it's how I feel about it and that includes a lot of things that you just can't put on paper.

stoptothink
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Re: What are your strategies when shopping for a house?

Post by stoptothink » Sun Oct 07, 2018 6:44 pm

LiterallyIronic wrote:
Sun Oct 07, 2018 5:14 pm
Holy smokes are people making it complicated.

Three visits to the house? Huge list of requirements? I just told our agent our max price and our requirements: near a freeway on-ramp and not in an HOA. Underground sprinklers preferred. We preferred two bathrooms, but couldn't get that in our price range.

We were quickly shown a house that worked, we put in an offer the day we were shown the house (for the first and only time) and closed a couple of weeks later.

Why be so picky?
Kinda where we were, but most people get very emotionally connected to a home. To me it is a roof and four walls; a place to sleep. We needed a certain amount of space, a particular area and I could not care less about most other things, although the wife had a list of things she wanted. I told our realtor our budget and that it had to be within walking distance of my office. We actually found the place, set up the showing and went ourselves, handled all negotiations with the owner, set up the inspection, etc...now that I think about it, the only thing our realtor did was make the formal offer and show up to the closing. He was a good guy and did mention that we were the easiest clients he ever had, but the only reason he was involved in the process was because it was our first home purchase and we were paying for that peace of mind. We'll do it ourselves, with the help of our lawyer friend, next time (likely the last time).

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PalmQueen
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Re: What are your strategies when shopping for a house?

Post by PalmQueen » Sun Oct 07, 2018 7:23 pm

We’ve purchased many homes and only twice did we meet the sellers. That was over 40 years ago. The sellers talked up the negatives of the home as “features”. We purchased the home and loved living there even though we soon found many additional “features” they chose not to share with us. Now that I think of it, the one home where we met the sellers before buying it probably had more hidden issues than any other.

Seller disclosure rules documenting known issues now provide much more reliable information than they did back then.

As to process, we first look at the things that are important to us that we cannot change: neighborhood, schools, commute, road noise, airplane noise, local government, taxes, HOA, etc.

From what is available that meets the “cannot change” criteria, we look at what we need in the structure itself. We don’t worry about paint, carpet, appliances or other interior features that can be changed without tearing down walls. (We always budget for replacing any wall-to-wall carpet before we move because…well, think about it.)

We visit the neighborhood on different days of the week and times of day, but don't need to go inside the house for that.

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Re: What are your strategies when shopping for a house?

Post by Fallible » Sun Oct 07, 2018 7:36 pm

A most important strategy is, once you have decided on a home you and your wife like, to have a professional home inspector look it over thoroughly as he/she should be able to catch problems. Be sure you, not the realtor, choose the inspector, that you are agreed on what it will include, and that you get the results in writing.
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Bruce T
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Re: What are your strategies when shopping for a house?

Post by Bruce T » Sun Oct 07, 2018 8:06 pm

1. Suggest using a buyer's agent (vs. listing agent or dual agent)... ideally from an exclusive buyer's agency ... reduces conflicts of interest and make fiduciary responsibility on agent's part very clear.
2. Your agent should be able to set up auto-emails w/ custom filtered searches for new listings.
3. Your agent may have access to pocket (pre MLS) listings ... can help give you a jump on opportunities... you might lose that w/ an exclusive buyer's agency.
4. Your agent should be able to run "comps" for you, this can serve several purposes:
a. during search phase: give you insight into how often a close match to your target purchase comes on the market and what the listing and actual selling prices are - I suggest 24 month look back period.
b. during offer phase: good pricing input for offer
5. ++ on professional home inspection early in process, use any discovered and undisclosed items as a negotiation point (i.e. either fix it item or price modification) ... save that for significant items though, no sense spoiling a good fit over a small matter.
6. unless you are planning a short stay in the home (< 5 years) then don't sweat < 7% price differences of price opinion - far better to get home w/ features, location, etc. you want
7. definitely review CCRs and then check w/ folks in the community to see whether/how they are enforced (or avoid HOAs completely, if you don't want to be restricted by CCRs).
8. As my dad says, "never buy the house you wish you had bought 20 years ago" ... this advise is targeted to older home buyers that may have romantic senses of the farmette, or larger family house, etc. that may no longer fit their family needs or ability to maintain.
9. don't reveal too much to *any* agent regarding any budget range, "have to have it" feelings, etc. that won't serve you well to have others know in the negotiation process ... even a dedicated buyer's agent may reveal too much inadvertently, and a seller's agent is obligated to inform the seller of that type of information. For examples, evaluation of a house might make more sense to be DH/DW private out of earshot of any agent.
10. Avoid, it at all possible, the emotional "it has to be this house" syndrome ... always be prepared to walk away if there is a disconnect on price or some major flaw is discovered.
10 cents ... and no non-cents...
Good luck!
Last edited by Bruce T on Sun Oct 07, 2018 8:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

darrvao777
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Re: What are your strategies when shopping for a house?

Post by darrvao777 » Sun Oct 07, 2018 8:06 pm

I find Zillow very helpful

I find the more human interaction there is, the less enthused I become with the process (this includes buying electronics, buying homes, buying cars, whatever the case may be). For our last 2 homes, we found the property, we didn't need an agent.

Using Zillow and Trulia (helpful for crime information), I can narrow where I want to live, the type of listing I want to see, the price range I want, the number of bedrooms I want, the square footage I want, and most importantly, the year built. I realize this depends on your locale but I don't want anything older than 3 years old in order to minimize the potential headaches with home maintenance.

Using all the criteria above, I usually will have a limited number of homes on my list and will then start the process of in - home visits. We typically just ask for the listing agent to show us the place and have found there is often increased incentive for them to sell as they stand to benefit from double commission. We typically want a new agent showing us each place and use a throwaway phone number and email for contact info. If we find an agent we like, we may engage them again for multiple showings of multiple properties.

I don't believe in going back and forth numerous times either when making offers. Some homes I'll offer my best and final from the get go. Other homes I'm willing to exchange one counterproposal. If it doesn't work, there's plenty of fish in the sea and it's important not to get hung up on a "dream house" or else we find we end up overpaying.

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Toons
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Re: What are your strategies when shopping for a house?

Post by Toons » Sun Oct 07, 2018 8:51 pm

Proximity to Walmart
Location
Price

Not Necessarily In That Order

:mrgreen:
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regularguy455
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Re: What are your strategies when shopping for a house?

Post by regularguy455 » Sun Oct 07, 2018 9:45 pm

Redfin made the home buying process painless. It pulls directly from MLS, allowed setup of showings through the app, had nearly all paperwork electronic and we got several thousand back at closing.

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Re: What are your strategies when shopping for a house?

Post by AlphaLess » Sun Oct 07, 2018 10:12 pm

Oh, boy, I think you are working with poor professionals.
Last agent we worked with added significant value.
She showed us 100+ properties in several neighborhoods.
This was over about 7 or 8 days.
She had printed handouts with an agenda.
Agenda showed a calendar (which house / when / high level detail), and she did her best to keep us on time.
She drove, to maximize time.
Also, a map showing the order of visits.
These days, I am assuming it is an iPad instead of killing paper.

Also, you should be able to get significantly better intel on the neighborhood, etc, yourself, vs asking the owners.
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Re: What are your strategies when shopping for a house?

Post by kacang » Sun Oct 07, 2018 10:17 pm

Fallible wrote:
Sun Oct 07, 2018 7:36 pm
A most important strategy is, once you have decided on a home you and your wife like, to have a professional home inspector look it over thoroughly as he/she should be able to catch problems. Be sure you, not the realtor, choose the inspector, that you are agreed on what it will include, and that you get the results in writing.
+1

A good inspector is well worth the cost. Ours wrote a manual on our home, lol. For every system, eg HVAC, he gave detailed evaluation, pictures, code requirement, and his recommendations. It was years ago, I still refer to it when we are doing repairs.

Our strategy is constrained by the competitive property market here. Shortlist using must-haves (good neighborhood, price + repair cost < budget, short commute to work, space works for us). First visit to see if there is any deal-killer, 2nd visit to confirm that we really want the house and make offer shortly after. Even with this lean and move-fast strategy, it took 2 years of active house-hunting to buy a home. We lost count of the number of rejections by sellers due to outbidding by other buyers.

Nate79
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Re: What are your strategies when shopping for a house?

Post by Nate79 » Sun Oct 07, 2018 10:36 pm

Just got done shopping for a new house as part of a relocation and man there are a lot of "lipstick on a pig" houses out there right now really reaching for prices they don't deserve.

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Re: What are your strategies when shopping for a house?

Post by Pigeon » Mon Oct 08, 2018 7:13 am

I decide on the basics of what I need in the house, like the number of bedrooms, baths, etc. I also have a list of preferred but not required features. There are some no-go features, like a swimming pool or being on a main road that would make a house a non-starter for me.

Personally, I've found the school system has a whole lot to do with resale value, so unless I were planning to stay for a very long time in one house, that matters a great deal to me. I've also personally seen that better school systems are better places to live in general, but that's just my observation.

I've generally found realtors to be helpful in pulling together a list of suitable properties to visit and getting there efficiently. Yes, they say some things that I find irrelevant or silly, but they can also be very useful in pointing out things I might overlook. Sometimes they do need to be reminded about things that are absolute deal breakers. They have, however, shown me houses that I have bought that I might not have chosen to look at had the realtor not shown me the house in the first place. I don't really see the point of going out of your way to antagonize realtors or potential sellers.

As the seller, I would probably decline meeting with prospective buyers and there is no way in hell I would talk to strangers looking in the neighborhood in any depth other than to just say hi. I find all that very strange.

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lthenderson
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Re: What are your strategies when shopping for a house?

Post by lthenderson » Mon Oct 08, 2018 9:04 am

I've bought all three of my houses after the first and only visit. I'm not sure why one would need five times to decide. I guess if the market is ice cold, one has enough time for five visits but in my market which I would describe as barely luke warm, the best houses still sell in a matter of days if not hours. The problem houses are the ones that stay on the market for months and years.

I usually ask the realtor if we can be free to look around at our own pace and by ourselves. They always agree. After I'm done then I ask the realtor for any information they might add.

Get pre-approved from the bank and have it in writing. This has been the tipping point twice in my favor where our offer and another were the exact same price.

Most people look at houses in the day time when the neighborhood is out at work. Come back in the evening and sit in your car with your windows down as the neighborhood settles down for the evening. I've rejected a number of houses after doing this do to lots of yapping dogs nearby that were inside and quite during the day and others for neighbors that were partying outside with loud music and lots of revving motorcycles, etc.

2015
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Re: What are your strategies when shopping for a house?

Post by 2015 » Mon Oct 08, 2018 1:48 pm

I just sold and am in the process of buying. I am strongly influenced by Munger's two-staged thinking when making decisions and taking actions in important situations such as these. His first step is to work out the situation like you would a bridge problem, i.e. probabilities, mathematics of the situation, the interests of each stakeholder involved (particularly your own!), along with many of the suggestions provided above. Second step is probably even more important, work out one's own perceptual/cognitive biases in the situation. I used this thinking as a sort of checklist which helped me strategically make an obscene amount of money on what I just sold. Most importantly, it has helped me refrain from making behavioral mistakes during the buying process now.

Buying a house can be viewed as one of life's "inflection points", one which can reverberate with repercussions for years. While approaching house buying with two-staged thinking is measurably harder, I believe the payoffs are enormous as they mitigate unintended and secondary consequences often overlooked during the decision-making process.

btenny
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Re: What are your strategies when shopping for a house?

Post by btenny » Mon Oct 08, 2018 2:41 pm

Most home buyers miss the location location issue big time and flop around a lot by looking in the wrong places. Finding a good home takes time and effort. Look at a lot of homes and be patient. I took over a year each time I moved and bought my next home. Both times we used the process below to select a subdivisions where we wanted to live and the floor plans we liked way before finding a home in the area. Then we looked at each house that went up for sale in our target areas.

I found this technique very helpful when I bought my homes. It got me great houses in the right location. Get one of those big metro area maps of your city and the surrounding burbs. Then color in two big Xs for where you and your wife work. Then get a compass and draw circles around each work place at 5 miles and 10 miles and 15 miles. Then look at the overlap areas for schools and put big Zs on them. Now go get in your car and drive around those Z schools and look at neighbor hoods. Select walking distances to these schools. Do you finds some nice areas? Do you see some surprises? Nice subdivisions? Any nice homes for sale in those areas? Now tell you realtor about your process and see what she can add.

Now get on the internet and only look at homes for sale in these Z areas. Look at past sales of previous homes in these areas. Zillow and other sites will let you look at previous sold homes. Look for homes that have nice floor plans in these areas. Look for nice lots. See how often those homes come up for sale and how fast they sold and for how much. See if some subdivisions have homes you like but are not presently for sale. Tell your agent what areas you like exactly and what homes plans you like. Tell her to go looking for that exact home. Then wait for a good home in the areas you like and buy it. Be patient.

Good Luck.

.

batpot
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Re: What are your strategies when shopping for a house?

Post by batpot » Mon Oct 08, 2018 4:13 pm

Ditto: location location location.

You might also want to drop your agent. You have no contract with a buying agent.
Some a great.

Murgatroyd
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Re: What are your strategies when shopping for a house?

Post by Murgatroyd » Mon Oct 08, 2018 4:48 pm

A lot of good info here.
Another thing you can do is use Google maps history function to view the property and surrounding area going back 20 years. Interesting what you’ll see.

And I want to reinforce looking at FEMA for flood zones. Particularly since it seems to be worsening. https://msc.fema.gov/portal/home

J295
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Re: What are your strategies when shopping for a house?

Post by J295 » Mon Oct 08, 2018 7:28 pm

Weren't planning to move when we got word on a Tuesday from the owner (a friend) that her home on the golf course on the cul-de-sac we love was going to be listed. That Thursday we visited the property with our contractor, reviewed the inspection report, then bought it on next Monday. (No agent on either side and we paid appraised value -- there were other parties highly interested, and there are only 8 of these properties on this particular part of the course that met our size requirement (we were downsizing) and the average holding period is about 20 years so it was no time to dawdle).

Spent 10 months with 18 subs doing a total renovation before we moved in (handled it as our own general with our architect and some input from an interior designer).

Golf maniac
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Re: What are your strategies when shopping for a house?

Post by Golf maniac » Mon Oct 08, 2018 9:26 pm

Agree with location, location, location....that is one thing you can never change. That includes schools, roads, taxes, proximity to work or transportation, other items such as parks that you like. After that is settled then you focus on Number of BR, baths, lot, exterior material, flooring, countertops, kitchen cabinets, etc etc....What are must haves, like to have, and don’t want at all. Then what is budget and what can you get on your list in that location. Many times you may have to compromise.

The last home we bought my wife picked the neighborhood she wanted, only two houses for sale and we bought one of them in 2006. It was far from perfect but we made many changes over time and made it a great home for us.

squirm
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Re: What are your strategies when shopping for a house?

Post by squirm » Mon Oct 08, 2018 10:43 pm

Yup, buying a home is always about compromise. The used homes we looked at, some are pretty appalling. Our first priority is location. Honestly, my wife and I don't like being around people when were home, frankly we don't want to see or hear them...We deal with people enough at work, that's why we live out in the boonies, we'd rather see and hear the wildlife, much much more relaxing.

Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot of homes where we are, and even less homes for sale. As someone suggested above about custom home, we're actually looking into that. Schools don't matter, we send our kids to private.

Yup, I overly use Google, don't know how people bought back in the day without it.

It's very difficult to find comps. It's not like our cookie cutter in the City where one you can easily do a comp. Out here every house is very different and on different acreage, some 5 acres, some 200 acres.

Yes, I used to just stash an MP3 recorder in the bushes when we bought our house in the City and retrieved it later to listen to the sounds of the neighborhood. It worked good, until the neighbors pass away or move away then you get some losers moving in with their all night partying kids (that happened to us).

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Misenplace
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Re: What are your strategies when shopping for a house?

Post by Misenplace » Mon Oct 08, 2018 11:18 pm

After working with a terrific architect and high quality builder to build our home some 12+ years ago, I don’t know how we are going to downsize, although we will have to at some point. Now I know what a quality build is, and none of the spec builders or developer company builders appear to do quality - I only see disposable homes going up. So the bones are crap, but the finishes are ‘to-die-for’. Eventually, often less than 10 years, I predict remedial repairs will be needed.

Now, to make this actionable - get the best, hardest-ass home inspector you can find. The one all the sellers and real estate agents simply hate because he/she squirrels their sale. Because there is a lot of disposable housing out there, and you don’t want to buy it.

Oh, and we missed #2 and 8 on livesoft’s list- brick is not a good choice in earthquake country.

quantAndHold
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Re: What are your strategies when shopping for a house?

Post by quantAndHold » Tue Oct 09, 2018 7:37 am

If your agent isn’t providing value, get another one. Agents we’ve had steered us to a neighborhood we would never have considered (which turned out to be perfect), were able to tell us how much it would cost to remodel that ugly whatever, were able to spot potentially expensive problems before we got into contract, and most importantly, helped immensely with negotiating deals in difficult markets.

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FlyAF
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Re: What are your strategies when shopping for a house?

Post by FlyAF » Tue Oct 09, 2018 7:44 am

LOL @ bringing a lunch to eat at a house you're looking at. Then asking to meet the owners? 3rd visit requires you to meet the neighbors? If my agent started giving me your list of demands I'd tell them to have you look elsewhere. I mean, I can't even begin.......

boglemania
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Re: What are your strategies when shopping for a house?

Post by boglemania » Tue Oct 09, 2018 9:02 am

Agree with people's recs to use prof inspector- but realize inspectors fall all across the spectrum/ Bell Curve like any other professional. We have now bought 8 houses (and 3 properties) over the years. Some inspectors have been great- most ok- 1 was horrible.
They all have slick brochures- just a little input into a computer app/pgm with uploaded iphone pics. So don't be impressed. And ask before if there will be things they cannot evaluate***. Talking to past clients a plus-esp ones from a yr or more ago (to see if problems later surfaced the inspector should have caught).
As I said earlier, buying a house can hide seasonal problems. We bought a house in the winter, the roof was <10 yrs old, covered in snow, ***inspector wouldn't go up there. It needed to be replaced that next year. Bought a house in the summer, things seemed perfect-in the winter ice melt from yard snow piles would flow toward garage door and refreeze, to the point of making garage door incapable of shutting. Take your time, really brainstorm about potential problems (because not all-in fact most- problems don't have to be disclosed).
And don't think a disclosure will help you much. Legal bills would outweigh simply fixing the problem in most cases.I personally know of several 10K+ problems that resulted very soon after purchase-not covered. One friend successfully sued for a 30k problem..prob took 5k atty bills though and huge time factor and hassle.
As someone said earlier, be willing to walk away, no house is the perfect dream house (not even the one you build-but that deserves its own thread).
Oh yeah, one more thing. I mentioned CCR's, HOA, flood plain etc. Search the local legal data bases/courthouse etc of the seller, properties(and in hindsight, neighbors). We bought a property/house where a zoning-easement was established for a future trail. We later found out that 2 neighbors vigorously fought it, 2 were gungho for it. Strained relationships before we even moved in. We then realized why we were felt like we were being 'lobbied' by them.
I have a good feeling about the OP prop. They wouldn't likely be offering an overnight if they were hiding something.

Texanbybirth
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Re: What are your strategies when shopping for a house?

Post by Texanbybirth » Tue Oct 09, 2018 9:07 am

livesoft wrote:
Sun Oct 07, 2018 3:34 pm
I wrote about it previously:
livesoft wrote:A list from a previous thread ….
http://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtop ... 24#p818024
livesoft wrote:When we started looking to buy, we went to library and checked out the books. It was pretty straightforward. I would not buy a book unless it was in the $1 rack at the used book store.

And the idea of "evaluating windows" is kind of silly. Here's my criteria when I was looking for a home.

1. On a cul-de-sac near the end, but not at the end and not at the beginning.
2. Good schools.
3. Within 3 miles of my office.
4. Short walk from a water features like a pond or lake.
5. No tile countertops.
6. No bathroom doors visible from a seated position in any public room like den, kitchen, living room, game room, study, etc.
7. 4 bedrooms, at least 3 bathrooms.
8. Brick exterior, not stucco, not wood.
9. No major street within 2 blocks. (i.e. Interior cul-de-sac).
10. No chance of flooding, so must be on a ridge or high ground with good drainage even during a hurricane.

Surprisingly, these criteria eliminate about 98% of homes, so if the realtor is doing their job, you won't have to look at more than 1 or 2 homes. Notice that except for the countertop thing, there is nothing special about windows, insulation, appliances, etc. Those are small things that you can change. You can't change location and add a large pond or good schools where none exist.
In addition, (some are redundant):

11. Not on a corner (same as #1).
12. If street has street lights, at the street light (free security lighting).
13. 3 ways out of the neighborhood (in case fallen trees block the roads).
14. Cannot hear any highway noise nor noise of major traffic arteries.
15. Nice walking possibilities for the dog; nice running/biking loops in several directions for you.
16. Consider site plan: Deciduous trees on south side to shield from sun in summer, open views on north side.
17. No nuisances (no electric wires, power lines. No visible water towers, cell phone towers, billboards, sewage treatment plants.)
18. Walk to schools (see #2).
19. Walk/bike to nearby grocery store, restaurants, drugstores, doctors, dentists (but not so close that one gets any noise or traffic in the neighborhood).
20. Home is offset from next door homes, so that windows do not face neighbors' windows, patios do not directly face neighors' patios.

And I agree with awval999, price-per-sq-ft is a good criteria, but once narrowed to a neighborhood the list I presented might help.
I'll add two more criteria from recent bogleheads threads:

N1. Water heaters should be located very near (such as above) critical bathroom showers and kitchens, so that one does not have to wait for hot water. Two heaters are better than one for redundancy.

N2. Washer/dryer in the laundry room should be located conveniently on the same floor as the master bedroom, but not so close as to allow noise in the bedroom. A good location is between the kitchen or mud room and the dining room. That way the dining room can be used for dumping/folding clothes from the dryer. Of course, one of the hot water heaters should be above the laundry room.
If you tell your buyer's agent not to show you any house that doesn't meet the specific location requirements, that'll speed things up and they won't waste your time. I only looked inside 2 homes in the course of 5 months. The first one I was tricked by my spouse; the second one we bought.
This is really good. It'll also help you vet your realtor. If they suggest 1 or 2 houses that don't meet this list (or your own modifications to the above), then they're fired. Get a new one, they cost too much to keep a crummy realtor around. Housing market is starting to slow down in our area, so it might be a good time to look around if you've got your other finances in order.

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8foot7
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Re: What are your strategies when shopping for a house?

Post by 8foot7 » Tue Oct 09, 2018 9:12 am

We had someone try this third and fourth (and even a fifth) showing business. I get looking at a house two times, and I can even buy into the third showing if you come ready to leave an offer on the kitchen table. But never again will we allow more than 3 showings.

Our experience: we indulged a fourth showing request given our extreme desire to sell the home. It consisted of a mid-workday visit from two minivans full of extended family that proceeded to overstay the 30 minute showing by one entire hour (I work at home) and leave dirty footprints all over our floor.

We declined visit request #5, thinking the only reason to come a fifth time is to find reasons not to buy the house. Our agent, who was generally useless, agreed, and even said in his experience the people that take that many visits hardly ever make offers. They never did make an offer.

We ended up selling to a couple who came once and made an offer the same evening.

Don't make it more difficult than it has to be. If you're not in love with a house by three showings, pick another house. It's not for you.

smitcat
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Re: What are your strategies when shopping for a house?

Post by smitcat » Tue Oct 09, 2018 9:28 am

8foot7 wrote:
Tue Oct 09, 2018 9:12 am
We had someone try this third and fourth (and even a fifth) showing business. I get looking at a house two times, and I can even buy into the third showing if you come ready to leave an offer on the kitchen table. But never again will we allow more than 3 showings.

Our experience: we indulged a fourth showing request given our extreme desire to sell the home. It consisted of a mid-workday visit from two minivans full of extended family that proceeded to overstay the 30 minute showing by one entire hour (I work at home) and leave dirty footprints all over our floor.

We declined visit request #5, thinking the only reason to come a fifth time is to find reasons not to buy the house. Our agent, who was generally useless, agreed, and even said in his experience the people that take that many visits hardly ever make offers. They never did make an offer.

We ended up selling to a couple who came once and made an offer the same evening.

Don't make it more difficult than it has to be. If you're not in love with a house by three showings, pick another house. It's not for you.
Agreed - never entertianed a 3rd visit , just sightseeers.

squirm
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Re: What are your strategies when shopping for a house?

Post by squirm » Tue Oct 09, 2018 2:15 pm

smitcat wrote:
Tue Oct 09, 2018 9:28 am
8foot7 wrote:
Tue Oct 09, 2018 9:12 am
We had someone try this third and fourth (and even a fifth) showing business. I get looking at a house two times, and I can even buy into the third showing if you come ready to leave an offer on the kitchen table. But never again will we allow more than 3 showings.

Our experience: we indulged a fourth showing request given our extreme desire to sell the home. It consisted of a mid-workday visit from two minivans full of extended family that proceeded to overstay the 30 minute showing by one entire hour (I work at home) and leave dirty footprints all over our floor.

We declined visit request #5, thinking the only reason to come a fifth time is to find reasons not to buy the house. Our agent, who was generally useless, agreed, and even said in his experience the people that take that many visits hardly ever make offers. They never did make an offer.

We ended up selling to a couple who came once and made an offer the same evening.

Don't make it more difficult than it has to be. If you're not in love with a house by three showings, pick another house. It's not for you.
Agreed - never entertianed a 3rd visit , just sightseeers.
Maybe that works in a sellers market but if you said that to me, forget it.

smitcat
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Re: What are your strategies when shopping for a house?

Post by smitcat » Tue Oct 09, 2018 2:22 pm

squirm wrote:
Tue Oct 09, 2018 2:15 pm
smitcat wrote:
Tue Oct 09, 2018 9:28 am
8foot7 wrote:
Tue Oct 09, 2018 9:12 am
We had someone try this third and fourth (and even a fifth) showing business. I get looking at a house two times, and I can even buy into the third showing if you come ready to leave an offer on the kitchen table. But never again will we allow more than 3 showings.

Our experience: we indulged a fourth showing request given our extreme desire to sell the home. It consisted of a mid-workday visit from two minivans full of extended family that proceeded to overstay the 30 minute showing by one entire hour (I work at home) and leave dirty footprints all over our floor.

We declined visit request #5, thinking the only reason to come a fifth time is to find reasons not to buy the house. Our agent, who was generally useless, agreed, and even said in his experience the people that take that many visits hardly ever make offers. They never did make an offer.

We ended up selling to a couple who came once and made an offer the same evening.

Don't make it more difficult than it has to be. If you're not in love with a house by three showings, pick another house. It's not for you.
Agreed - never entertianed a 3rd visit , just sightseeers.
Maybe that works in a sellers market but if you said that to me, forget it.

And that is fine cause we have had success selling 6 homes and many cars and boats without ressorting to mutiple visits before a live offer.
Early on in life I found out that the ones with multiple visists were tire kickers and the ones that were real would have offers within a couple of visits.
YMMV

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