Andrew Wetzel's Musings

May 27, 2017

How to be a SERIOUS Buyer! Part 3 (of 7)

Filed under: Uncategorized — awetzel @ 3:15 PM

Your search is now underway!  Two of the key pieces are in place (you know how much you want to spend and you know where you might consider living).  Now you need to define the “parameters” (criteria) of your house search.  The importance of this will depend on how your price and your location are “matched”:  if you are willing to spend what the area “goes for”, you will have a certain number of properties available to consider.  If you expect to spend less than the area “goes for”, you will have fewer choices and may not be able to look at everything available and buy whatever you consider the “best” property for you.  On the other hand, if you are willing to spend on the “high side”, you will possibly have too many choices and will need to focus on features.

Whenever I start a search for a Buyer-client I like to see how many choices they have at their price range and in the location(s) they like.  I keep the search very simply in the initial stage (price range, single, twin or row; minimum number of Bedrooms and Baths).  This will tell me how realistic the price range is for the area(s).  If only two houses come up, you may not want to buy either one and should expect that both will need some work OR that the area does not “turn over”.  On the other hand, if there are 50 choices you can count on adding a number of features and getting most of what you want.  I won’t go into the underlying philosophy here as it is YOUR choice to decide what to spend and where to live.  However, the challenge can get overwhelming if you are so vague or indecisive that hunting for a house evolves into a sight-seeing adventure.  You may also miss out on a great house!  It can also get very frustrating if the selection is too limited.

Two general thoughts on your “must-have” features.  First, you need to know if you really want these to be “go” or “no go” criteria.  If you want a Family Room, you will NOT see houses that do NOT LIST a Family Room.  That leads into my second point:  the key word is “LIST” and not necessarily “HAVE”.  Let me explain.

Our Multiple Listing Service is called TREND/ Bright MLS.  Some time ago, in order to make property searches as effective and efficient as possible, TREND (with input from agents!) established a list of the 6 “MAJOR” search features buyers looked for  (they are:  basement, central air conditioning, Family Room, fireplace, garage and pool.  I never understood “pool”.  I have never had a client want one and they usually avoid houses that have them).  Making these “MAJOR” means that EVERY property listing put into the MLS has to specify whether the property (residentials only!) does or does not have each of these.  Unfortunately, “garbage in, garbage out”:  some agents actually make mistakes when they input their listings.  What does that mean?  It means that the computer will match your criteria with what the agent input rather than what a house may really offer!  I have seen single (that means “fully detached”) houses listed as row homes.  I have seen the wrong number of Bedrooms and Baths.  I have seen wrong zip codes!  My point here is two-fold.  Know what you really want or need but recognize that you limit your choices by having more “must haves” and, unfortunately, there is a chance that you will miss out on a house that you might like simply because an error was made when the house was entered into the MLS.

On the other hand, some features are NOT a required entry so you are really taking a chance when you specify them as a number of agents may not mention them at all.  One very popular feature that falls into this category is a “deck”.  Yard is another!  There are other scenarios but space is limited.

Here is my solution:  balance location with what you are willing to spend (would you prefer the nicest house in an average area OR an average house in the nicest area?  Neither choice is wrong but there will be a difference in “resale” as the “appreciation rates” may vary), choose a moderate amount of “must haves” and really review the information you receive.  With TREND printouts you may see “Family Room” listed as “no” but the “public remarks” may mention a beautiful, finished basement.  One measure to consider as far as whether your search criteria are realistic is how many choices you have.  Another is how many of the choices appeal to you.

An experienced, professional REALTOR can really help you work through the process so that you can find the best house, in the best neighborhood, with the nicest features at the best price for you!

There really is a lot more to find your next home than jumping in a car and starting to look.

Thank you for reading.

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