How do you know if you should visit a listing?
If you are like most people looking for a new home, you will have some level of obsessiveness when it comes to looking at listings online. But when do you know that you should put down the mouse, cell phone or tablet and pick up your car keys, call your agent and go visit that listing?
Easy. If the listing fills in the below four criteria, then you shouldn’t hesitate. Go see it.
1. The price is right
First of all, before you seriously begin your search, you should have a conversation with your lender so you can set your price parameters. Then your online search parameters should be set low enough to capture any homes that are priced below market value. Realtors sometimes price far below market value to generate a lot of interest in the listing.
Of course, you shouldn’t set your search parameters too far above what you can spend. It’s true that Realtors often price homes above market value, though it is rare that homes priced more than 5% above market value sell. (At higher price ranges sometimes homes can be priced 7%-10% too high).
Historically in Kitchener-Waterloo, homes tend to sell within less than 3% above or below list price, though there are many exceptions to this rule.
2. Must have the must haves
Successful home shoppers know what they want. These are the non-negotiables. Typically, the must haves list will include the number of bedrooms, the neighbourhood and some other important criteria to the buyer.
Buyers also know what they would like to have. This is more of a wish list. For example, maybe you would like to have white cabinets in the kitchen. If that is not present in the listing, it’s not a dealbreaker as that can be changed later.
I’ve worked with hundreds of home buyers over the years. Some have interesting methods of determining whether a home should or shouldn’t be considered. One client had a three strikes and your out policy — if there were three things she didn’t like about the place, we moved on. Another client ranked homes on a scale to 100. If a home did not reach 80% then it was not the right one.
3. Listing photos
Most real estate listings have professional listing photography. Although photographs can be misleading, they are also very revealing. If you like what you see in the photographs, then you should probably take the next step and go see the place.
4. All the rest
Prudent home buyers study the listing. They read the description. They google street view the neighbourhood. They know about the schools, shops, traffic systems and other amenities. They do their due diligence from the comfort of their own home, office or neighbourhood coffeeshop.
One of my 365 Rules about Real Estate is that you cannot buy a house on the internet. Although I wrote that book about a decade ago and maybe is not as completely true as it once was, you really should visit as many homes as you can before making a decision to buy.