House Hunting Tips – August 24, 2017
During the summer, many customers visiting Shelter Island dip their toes into house-hunting waters. Each customer has a different approach to searching for real estate, something that has evolved with the advent of arm-chair shopping online.
Before the internet, most customers would typically call a real estate agent and share their budget, desires for a home site and creature comforts within, then listen to the agent describe offerings matching the criteria. Now, customers begin their search online in the privacy of their home or office and sometimes do not verbally share their actual thoughts and goals with an agent until they are physically on a tour. The National Association of Realtors has statistics indicating that a consumer shops online for over a year before going out in the field for a tour.
Internet accessibility has its advantages and admittedly it can be fun, however there are ways customers can streamline their in-person home search:
- Rodgers and Hammerstein’s song “Getting to Know You” translates well to house hunting. Customers speaking with an agent via email or on the phone can be a good way to start a relationship, however meeting in person, spending time together on a tour and allowing an agent to hear feedback on each house can be the beginning of a positive rapport and trust beyond bullet points and sound bites.
- Allowing the agent to select properties that most closely fit the goal is an efficient route to begin the process. Customers I am working with often send links to listings they would like to see which can be diverse and, sometimes contrary to what they have described as their ultimate goal. After seeing the properties, they sometimes remark: “why did I pick these?” Working with a real estate agent who has expertise in a local market and experience navigating a transaction through to closing is also key.
- When on a tour with customers, I encourage them to absorb a house at face value: the area, the space, and its personality, since each house has a distinct feel. Customers can get overwhelmed with details and after seeing half dozen houses, one home can blend into another. “Speed dating” is a good method to follow: say hello to a house for up to 15 minutes, be sensitive to common threads and see if you want to know more, come back for a second visit.
- Renovate later – Many customers do virtual renovations upon setting foot in the entry foyer, prior to seeing an entire house. Few houses are completely turn-key—some need updating and others can be renovated according to one’s personal taste—Pare down the properties to a short list of preferred listings and then factor in any needed or desired alterations in a chart comparing one house to another.
- Taking notes and cell phone photos on tours can crystallize thoughts about a property. I encourage customers to shoot their own photos of areas they like in a home and jot down a few thoughts about a property when they get back into the car.
- Sharpen your pencils – a home purchase is one of the biggest investments one can make. Contacting a mortgage lender and knowing the financial outcome can help make a dream a reality.
- Timing – in a second home market like Shelter Island, some customers shop when it is convenient for them, often with no set time frame to purchase. Many customers express that if they see a property they like, they will pounce at the opportunity. Others express regret that they set out to hunt for a house before formulating goals, and missed out on a property they fell in love with which sold before they were prepared.