If you are one of those people who consistently drives around, sees an open house sign, gets excited and thinks that is the way you shop for homes, looking randomly and hoping to fall in love with a home on the “first date,” I have bad news for you. This is NOT how you should shop for homes. Here are my top three tips on how to NOT waste your entire weekend (or even part of it) at open houses:

open house

First tip: Find out what you can actually afford. So many buyers stop by open houses who cannot afford the home they’re looking at. Unless you just like to look at homes as a hobby (which is totally fine, I’m guilty of this, I do it all the time) stopping by any open house is not the best idea. (It is however the best way to get 7 different real estate agents calling you by the end of the day wanting to know if you’re ready to write an offer. So if that’s worth anything?) Find out what lending options you have. Find out which lenders you enjoy working with. You may be able to afford a bigger home (with an ocean view) than you originally thought. Take the action steps needed to get prequalified so that when you’re out taking time away from your family and your leisure activities, you know what you want, and you know what you can afford.

Second tip: Schedule time in your calendar to go look at homes with your professional Realtor. If you’re going around looking at whatever homes pop up on the market, most likely a good majority of them won’t be within your criteria. They won’t have enough bedrooms, or they will have carpet all over, when you really need hardwood floors. If you hire a professional Realtor, they will be looking at homes new to the market every day, and they will be filtering through them using your personal parameters. Real estate agents also talk to other agents (it’s our job to work with each other, even if we work for different companies) so we know about new homes coming on the market, and off market deals. We as professionals are always entrenched in our local marketplace, so using a pro is a great idea to help save you TONS of time in the end.

Third tip: If you’re looking for something unique, work with a professional who knows you well. Getting specific with your real estate agent is a great idea. If you’re looking for a 2 bedroom home with an ocean view, or space in your garage to park 6 cars, your Realtor should know all of these things, and can filter through the homes on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) quickly to find the right fit. A lot of the information on sites like Zillow and Redfin is inaccurate (descriptions, prices, square footage, etc.) so hiring a professional really helps when you are looking for a home that is more unique than just 3 bedrooms/2 bathrooms in xyz zip code. Trust your hired agent to send you the matches that will be better fitted for your family. Don’t spend your Saturday driving around neighborhoods guessing.

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When I am working with a buyer, I am always asking questions about their specific needs, and searching daily to find the right home for them. As we look at our first “round” of homes together, I ask questions about what they liked and didn’t like about each home we visit, and I tailor their next “round” of houses that we look at toward their needs based on the original feedback, and also the feedback from previous “rounds.” This process helps save my clients a lot of time (which saves them money!) If you or someone you know is thinking about buying a home, but don’t know where to start, I strongly recommend talking to a lender first, write down your home “needs” (and also your wants), and hire a qualified professional to help you. (This service is FREE to buyers!) I hope this information was helpful, and allows you to gain back a LOT of your weekend time from here on out! What is your favorite part of looking at homes for sale? I would love to know. Leave a comment!