November 2017 - Simplify the Home Buying Process

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You’ve probably heard the stories about how frustrating it is to find and buy a home. You’ve heard things like, “we looked at dozens of homes and in the end we had them all mixed up in our minds”. Or, “our agent kept showings us homes that really didn’t meet our needs”.

Consumers often approach buying a home the way they do many other items they need. They go shopping. Various versions of the item desired are looked at, touched, tried on, or driven. This process continues until the consumer can select the one deemed best. But buying a home becomes very complicated and time consuming when this process is used.

Instead of taking the typical shopping approach when you head out the door to buy a home, recognize the complexity involved in making a home purchase. Realize also, that your lifestyle and the home you purchase must fit well together. So how should you approach buying a home, so the process is smooth and relatively simple?

First, think in terms of elimination, not selection. In most cases, when I buy an item I sort of line up the options and make a choice based one or more basic preferences. This is a process of selection. I look at several versions of the item I want to buy and select one. When you buy a home follow a process of elimination instead.

The process of elimination starts with the buyers knowing what a home must have for it to meet their needs. The features of the home must support the buyers’ lifestyle.  For example, a family comprised of two adults (one who loves to read, one who plays music) and two kids aged 11 and 13 who play sports has some specific lifestyle requirements. If these buyers were to sit down, assess their lifestyle, and make a list of features that their next home must have to support their lifestyle it might contain things like the following:

A large flat fenced yard

an extra finished room large enough for two or three folks to practice music

a cozy sitting room for reading

a neighborhood park with a sports court. 

4 bedrooms with the kids rooms being large enough to comfortably hold typical bedroom furniture and a study desk and chair for homework.

2 ¾ bathrooms

The must-have list should consider not only hard features like the above. It should also consider soft features like location, commute time, proximity to often visited destinations, schools, and safety. Vet the must-have list by asking yourself if anything on the list is optional. For example, if a home has a master suite that is large enough to include a comfortable sitting area, the sitting room might be optional.

The next step in the process of elimination is to use the must have list to eliminate homes based on features, neighborhoods, location, proximity to work, schools, etc. Eliminate every home from consideration that does not contain the true must have features. By doing so you only look at homes that you would be very happy living in given it is in the right condition (and condition can be on the must-have list too).

A buyer can keep the home search process streamlined by sharing their must have feature list with their real estate agent. The agent is then empowered to leverage the unique tools available to find the handful of homes that will support the buyer’s lifestyle and financial needs.

Once you have eliminated all homes except those that truly meet your needs you will be faced with deciding which of those few homes you will buy. To help with this decision you use a second list. That list is the wish list. The wish list contains features that you would like to have, but don’t require. In our example, perhaps the buyer would like to have an outdoor living space like a covered patio with a fireplace. Armed with the wish list a buyer can easily rank homes under consideration by comparing the features from the wish list each home has. Given that all homes being considered include the must-have features, the home having the most or the most important wished-for features makes it to the top of the list.

By tapping the experience of their real estate agent, the buyer can now determine which of the top ranked homes represents the best value under current market conditions.

By following this simple process, a buyer can look at only a few homes, all of which would meet their needs, and have their real estate agent successfully negotiate a purchase. This is streamlined process that makes finding and buying the right home much more enjoyable.