House-hunting is overwhelming, and the last few weeks have been really wearing on me. Yes, we still have a couple months left on our lease, but time is getting away from us, and we'd like to find one soon!
However, all this practice has helped me streamline my house-hunting method, and as a result, I have become very organized in my approach. Now when we decide we'd like to buy another rental property, we'll be good to go, and waste less time at the beginning of our search.
Specify your criteria before or soon after you start
When we began driving by our first 40+ houses, I really had no idea what types of things to look for. Sure, I had my non-negotiables, but square footage, and number of bedrooms were pretty versatile.
Price was actually one things that really ended up changing for us, because of the availability of houses in our original range.
Square feet – Once we'd been in a couple houses with 1,100 square feet, it felt a little cramped. I knew we wanted something larger, so we set 1,200+ as a must-have. This eliminated a lot of houses on that huge list of ours!
# of Bedrooms – I thought we might be able to get away with 2 bedrooms, but Florida rooms are really small, so we pushed it up to 3. Now we have enough room for our bedroom, a guest bedroom for family and visitors, and a work/craft room for me!
Price – Though it's hard to pay such a large amount for a house, try to set a range that gives you a little bit more flexibility and options. Remember – prices are negotiable!
Use Realtor.com or the app to keep track of listings
If I didn't have a tool to organize all the houses I wanted to see, I would constantly be printing off listings, wasting paper, or wasting my time on houses that weren't available anymore. (The houses down here move so quickly!)
When I downloaded the realtor.com app, it made house-hunting so easy and enjoyable. (and it's FREE!) All you have to do is plug in the criteria mentioned above, and it populates results within that range.
Here are some of the features I like:
- Every time you view a listing, a small check mark will appear so you know you've already looked at that one.
- You can save listings you're interested in pursuing further, which gives you instant access to the houses you really like.
- Under each listing, you can view any notes the buyer has written, photos, structure type, square footage, etc.
- Each listing maps out the location so you can quickly write off those bad sections of the city without needing to drive by.
- When a house that you've saved suddenly becomes unavailable, the app will remove it from your listing for you.
By the time I had 5-10 saved listings, I would plug in all the addresses into Google maps, and move the locations around for the least “out-of-the-way” route.
Then Joseph and I would head out to do our “drive-by's” and check out the area of each house. When we pull up to a house, I can quickly read through the specs of the home right from my phone. So convenient!
Keep a list of unwanted houses
Unfortunately, realtor.com doesn't keep an ongoing list of houses we've said “no” too, so I've had to keep track of my own.
Why is this so important? Because after 50-60 housing drive-by's, they all begin to blur together, particularly with addresses like NW 1st Terrace, 1st Place, and 1st Street W, all in the same neighborhood. No joke!
It's nothing super fancy, just a piece of notebook paper that has each area (or town) we've looked in, the address, and a quick “why-we-didn't-like-it” – no privacy, roof issues, etc. Though I can usually keep houses straight, I don't want to rely on that and waste my time on a house we didn't want 3 weeks ago.
However, if you want something a bit more professional, I can provide that too. Here's a FREE printable to download for your next house hunting search. Just click here, or on the graphic to save it to your computer.
By the way, if the lines look a little funny when you go to print, it's just an illusion on the screen. I tested it and it prints out fine.
You could actually use this printable for the houses you'd like to drive by as well, if you're not into the tech thing, or don't have access to a smart phone/iPad.
I hope this super detailed house-hunting method will help you the next time you need to find a home, especially if you want to keep your approach organized. You might even want to save this post to Pinterest or Evernote, just so you can reference it later!
Do you have a house-hunting organizational system?
FYI – Realtor.com has no idea who I am and did not sponsor this post. I just think their app is one of the best!