From my perspective, $100,000 is a lot of money. It’s enough to buy a Lamborghini. That being the case, it’s amazing to me how rushed and hurried the home buying process seems to be. In contrast, for example, I recently decided I wanted to buy my wife a bicycle. The style of bike she wants costs $300 to $400. To us that’s a lot of money, so we’ve been taking our time shopping around and still have yet to buy one.
But when we decided to buy a home, we got together with our real estate agent on three separate occasions to look at houses. We made an offer on the seventh house we visited and that after having been in it for only 30 minutes. As the home buying process went forward, we paid $450 for the inspection and then afterwards realized we no longer liked the house and had to back out of our offer.
Here’s the lesson we learned:
The first time we walk into a home we tend to see the house in a broad sense. We see the shape of the house as a whole. Inside, we see where the walls are and the home’s layout, we see the color of the carpet and the paint, we see the kitchen counters, the fridge, the sliding glass door that leads to the patio…etc.
But it’s during a second visit that we began to see the smaller details. We suddenly noticed that there was a crack in the tiles running all the way across the kitchen floor. The sink had a broken faucet. There was paint splatter on all the base boards. There was a hole in the garage wall. A rain gutter was missing from the front of the house and the exterior wall was damaged where the down spout of the gutter had been. There were many more problems as well which had all gone unnoticed during our first visit, but became obvious once our mind’s eye moved beyond seeing the house as a whole.
Go and see a home twice before making an offer.
Make an appointment with your real estate agent to go and see a home. When you get there, wander around inside and out and allow yourself to take it all in. Then start over again with camera in hand. Start from the street and take a picture of the whole house and property, then walk inside and take multiple pictures of every room and from different angles. If you happen to spot a problem, take a picture of it.
Afterwards, go home and put the pictures onto a large screen such as your television. Sit down on the couch with your wife and discuss them. What you liked and didn’t like about the house. Spend a day or two thinking about it. Then schedule a second appointment with your real estate agent to go and see the house again.
During your second visit, take your time wandering through the house. Again, look at it as a whole. Then start over, but this time look at the small details. Take the time to flip switches, open and close windows, turn door knobs, flush toilets, turn on and off the shower and tub, open and close the garage door, open the fuse box and look inside, ring the doorbell, look at the water heater and the AC unit, etc.
Before making an offer on a home, make sure that you’ve given yourself time to really see the house.
House on Cape Cod, MA by Rene Schwietzke