Tracking & Tours
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As you begin the research potion of your property search, you should focus on a few key factors. There are lots of properties out there, but if you have the busy lifestyle of most in the Metro DC area, you will need to consider location before everything else. Because of the congestion and commuting challanges of our area, making a mistake on the location you want to live in can quite literally wreck your desired lifestyle. There is likely no home anywhere that will convince you that a 2 hour, one-way commute, 5 days per week is worth it for more than the first few months. The key is to figure-out where you need to be, and how often. Use that information to determine the best geography for you and your family. From there, you can begin to look for the types of neighborhoods and properties that you find attractive. Then you can begin the tracking process.
Tracking needs and homes…
The first tracking exercise is to take your internal desires and convert them into tangible property characteristics. Write a list of things you need, based initially only on your needs. Draw a line under these “non-negotiable” characteristics. These are things like enough bedrooms, bathrooms, a fence around the backyard, or access to public transportation. Next write a list of things that you want. This second “negotiable” list can be based on things you’ve always wanted like, a hot tub, fireplace, or deck. They can also be based on lifestyle desires like, walking in the woods on weekends, easy access to the mall, or being able to find local entertainment venues. As you continue in the process of find a home the list will likely change from time to time. New things may be added, or removed, or may change between the first and second list. The key is to make sure your list reflects an accurate picture of what you need and what you want.
Your next tracking job can be more automated by using web-based mls and active home listing search tools. Make sure you add every possible item from your “non-negotiable” first list to the search criteria. Be sure to limit the search area to reflect the geography which you have already identified. You can use the items on your second list to rank the order of your search result listings. Try to narrow your results down to your top 5 to 10 homes. Once you have done this, you are ready to begin the touring process.
Touring the winners…
Nothing is more disheartening as you search for a new home than spending an entire day looking at homes you discount before you get through the front door. The best way to avoid this is to jump in your car and drive by the front of the properties on your list before you commit to making an appointment to see the properties with your agent or broker. Because you have already narrowed the geography, so properties are close together, you can likely drive by 10 listings in under 30 minutes. If you find that there are any you couldn’t live with from the outside, down-grade them. If they fall-off the bottom of the list then you can always add another one that you likel better when you drive by it. Remember , if it drops off of the list, remove it from your online portfolio of prospects. This will save you time and frustration during your search.
Once you have a list of 5 to 10 properties you like, you can just send a request to view the properties from the site or call the agent/broker that you have decided on to see the inside. Because you have taken a few minutes to search on line and then drive-by the outside of the properties, it is highly likely that you will really enjoy the process from here because you will only be seeing homes that really interest you.