You’re making progress! Now you have a list of houses that you can start paring down to a short list of houses that you will personally inspect. This is where an experienced agent becomes especially handy.
He or she can help you eliminate homes on busy streets, in bad areas, with proximity to undesirable locations, and the like. How many homes do you need to look at?
Depending on the market and how many homes are on the market, narrow it down to between five and twelve. Still, it’s possible that the first, second, or third home you see could be love at first sight.
In that case, accelerate the search and make sure none of the remaining homes are preferable. You may be able to eliminate some by driving by and not liking what you see. Also, if you like the home, chances are other home hunters will, too, so you’ll want to put together an offer fast.
But before you submit that offer, do a quick reality check: Make sure that nearby businesses don’t create nightly noises such as trucks unloading, loud equipment running, or other disturbing sounds that you don’t notice during the day.
Check out the traffic during the evening or early morning. Make sure your street isn’t a shortcut to the freeway during commuter hours. Walk up and down the street and make sure a neighbor doesn’t rebuild motorcycles, have a rock band, or isn’t involved in some other disruption.
Talk to several neighbors; if there are problems or irritating neighbors, you’ll find out about them fast. Check the MLS database for home sales during the past six months or so. Note the days on the market and the gap between the list price and sold price.
If both of these market indicators are increasing, the area may have problems you should check out.
Find out how many rentals are on the street you want to buy. If it’s more than one or two, be wary because values in the area could be sliding.