Savvy Shopping for the Perfect Home

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Simply put, buying a new home is a big deal. And it's nothing you should hastily jump into. It is a good idea to begin seeking out open houses and looking at homes with an agent as soon as you get a hankering to get into a new home.

As such, it's a good idea to study up on how to get the most out of your open house experience. Here are a few tips:

What to Bring
You want to be thorough in checking out any potential new home. As such, it's a good idea to bring a:

  • Tape measure
  • Camera
  • Notebook

Pay Attention
Sure you are going to look at a house, but the big picture is important. Pay attention to your surroundings. Is it a neighborhood that you would enjoy living in? Are there conveniences like a grocery store, dry cleaner or gas station nearby? Does anything look "out of place" or like it may be a nuisance? Are there schools or outdoor recreation areas nearby? If you find a home you like in an area that seems to fit the bill, you should still drive through the neighborhood at different times of the day to ensure there aren't any quirky traffic patterns or time-specific annoyances.

You also want to pay attention to an area of the home that often gets short shrift: the outside. Is it in good condition? How does the lawn look? The roof and siding? Exterior fixes could add up to big bucks down the road and you want to take them in consideration before falling in love with the interior.

Be Critical
Also keep in mind that open houses are a showcase. The home is supposed to look great. Which means you need to be extra critical as you check it out. Be on the lookout for signs of poor construction or lapsed maintenance, including:

  • Uneven floors
  • Water stains on walls, floors, ceilings (especially in kitchen, baths and basement)
  • Musty smell

It's also a good idea to check for things that aren't common features such as the view and closets.

Take Notes
Throughout your visit, take notes and pictures of everything you like or dislike about the house. Having a detailed summary of a house will create a record of issues might help you negotiate a better deal, and assist you in making your final decision in which house to buy.

Ask 3 Questions
Lastly, here are three questions that you should ask at every open house you attend:

  • When was the house built? (Houses built pre-1978 used lead paint.)
  • What renovations were made and when?
  • When was the home listed? (The longer it's been on the market, the more likely it is to be overpriced.)

After the Open House
If a given home checks off most of the boxes on your "must have" list, be sure to set up an appointment to go back! This is one of the most important things you can do when you're shopping for a home, as it will give you another look on another day and offer a break where you can think things over and re-examine the pictures that you took.

Buying a home should never be an "impulse" purchase. Always, always, always do your homework and  trust your gut. If something doesn't feel right, don't force it.

If you are looking to buy, sell, rent or build, Friedrich Iowa Realty can help. To set up an interview with an agent to discuss your options, please give us a call at 515.232.6175, toll free at 800.681.7333 or stop in our offices at 100 6th St. in Ames. We look forward to chatting!

Friedrich Iowa Realty has worked with buyers, sellers, builders and renters of houses, condos, patio homes, townhouses, multi-family units and commercial real estate in central Iowa since 1927. The independently owned affiliate of Iowa Realty offers 30 Realtors®. Learn more about Friedrich Iowa Realty online at, on Facebook at and on Twitter @GreatIowaHomes.

Jan 4, 2018 | Add a comment | Buyer Blog, Seller Blog

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