This post will teach you how to save yourself time and money as a real estate buyer in today's huge inventory of properties up for sale. There might be 50 or more properties for sale in your price range, but you don't need to view all 50 to find your home. You can start your search online using my MLS search (set for Orland Park single family homes, but you can change it to whatever town(s) or property types you want) or the searches of other property portals.
The very best way to search is to have me create an Automated E-mail Search that sends listings directly to your e-mail from the MLS. OK, now you've got the listings in your price range and with your amenities. Depending on how many listings are available, you now need to sift through them to try to get the listings that would best fit you.
Here are some things that can come up. As an agent, I work with many buyers and sellers at any given time. I don't always have time to sift through listings for buyers, especially when I start working for them. So here are some items that come up that buyers can learn about to help them eliminate listings they would never consider.
How to use those listing print-outs
- One thing I hear the most is how certain rooms are too small. I'm told how the king sized bedroom set would not fit in any of the bedrooms, or the dining room or family room is not large enough. You can quickly learn different room sizes that are too small for you, and you need to then check the room sizes on the online or MLS print-outs. If one of those important rooms is too small for your needs, then there is no reason to view that home. I realize that sometimes you can put on additions or knock down walls, but in today's market it usually makes more sense to find a home where you don't have to do all that, unless you're considering a very low priced foreclosure.
- Check those real estate taxes! There are new construction homes that foreclosed and are priced in first-time buyer price ranges, but carry huge real estate tax amounts. I showed a newer home priced at $175,000 with over $8,000 in real estate taxes! My clients could afford the home, but they were not interested in paying those high taxes. That was our first time out together, and I made sure that there was a cap put on the real estate taxes in their automated search.
- If you're looking at condos, townhomes or single family homes that have a Home Owner's Association and fees, you need to check out the monthly or annual fees and see what they cover. When my husband and I bought our Scottsdale, AZ townhouse, we didn't want to pay high maintenance fees since it was a 2nd home. If you would not consider paying $500.00 a month in maintenance fees, then there is no reason to view that property.
- Use the maps. I can't always tell if a house backs up to a busy street or if it is close to a train track, electrical power lines or commercial buildings. Although you can usually tell if a home is located on a corner, the address doesn't always convey that. Using the satellite or terrain map features provided on my website search or the automated MLS search, you can see what is around the property. This really helped us with our Scottsdale townhouse search. We only wanted properties that were very close to the pool. That really helped us narrow down the properties to look at during the 3 days we had for our search, and we ended up liking any one of four units we saw. This also helps buyers see whether a corner house has any kind of back yard, or how a house is situated on the lot. Some homes are situated on the back of the lot, and many buyers would not buy that home.
- Speaking of the lot, check the lot size of every listing you're considering. If there is no way you'd consider a 25' wide lot, then don't waste your time looking at the house on it. Same goes for those buyers that don't want a lot of yard work. If you don't want to take care of a half acre or higher lot, then take it off the list.
- Look at all of those photos and virtual tours. I know they can be deceiving and most homes look smaller than the pictures convey, but they will give you an idea of updates, paint colors, flooring, etc. Some of these items can more easily be changed, but you might see an outdated kitchen or bathroom that you don't want to deal with, or a house with old wallpaper on every wall.
- Check out where rooms are located in the house. I've shown homes where the kitchen is in the lower level. I showed a beautiful Tinley Park townhouse where there was one bedroom on the upper level, the master bedroom on the main floor and the 3rd bedroom was in the basement. That might be perfect for someone without children or with older kids, but not the best set-up for a family with younger children where they'd prefer to be on the same level. By checking room locations, you will be able to see if the floor plan is acceptable for your situation. Keep in mind, bathrooms do not show locations, with the exception of master bath info (you can check the floor location of the master bath). Also, as far as I am aware, room locations are only visible on automated searches directly from the MLS – not from a website search.
- Check for pools. That might not turn up on a website search, but should be shown on an MLS print-out. I've had buyers that were unpleasantly surprised to find built-in pools, something they would not want. Many don't want any kind of pool, but above ground pools can be taken down easier than filling in a built-in pool.
I think searching for a new home is fun. We bought our Scottsdale townhouse over 2 years ago and we purchased our Orland Park home last year. Sometimes we can't tell a home's floor plan by reading about it and we know some listing agents don't put many pictures up. You are going to see homes you are not interested in, but you can lessen your physical search by really reading those property descriptions and eliminating the homes you would never consider purchasing.
If you're interested in buying a home in the southwest suburbs give me, Judy Orr, a call at 708-536-8200 or use my Contact Form.