It can be complicated to look for a new home. I’m lucky because house hunting is my job right now, but even so, we have missed out because we didn’t move fast enough or didn’t keep track of some important data. So I’ve been working on getting our search organized in a way that makes sense for me and is accessible for my husband. Our current modus is for me to go look first, then bring him in on the serious contenders. So here are 6 tools I am using to keep our house hunt organized.
- Map a route: For the record, Google Maps is not always right, and neither are any of the others. I’ve learned to allow time for wrong/missed turns, and for just plain wrong map directions. The cool thing with Google Maps is that I can plot multiple addresses, save the map, then send it to my phone. My phone GPS works great only when I have connectivity so having e-mailed instructions is nice. I suppose other mapping sites do this but I haven’t tried them.
- Carry readable directions/have note paper: I write the house addresses in a smallish notebook I carry in my purse along with directions written by left turn, right turn, etc, 1 house per page. I’m a landmark driver and have a good sense of where I am always, but sometimes my phone is too hard to see or read quickly. I also make notes about the house for such things as contact numbers or information. I have an envelope in the notebook for receipts, business cards, or whatever info is available at a house. Sometimes home warranty information is available. Several owners have platts of the lot or house diagrams laid out for people to take.
- Keep Status current: Wanda prints out the house detail synopsis which I count on, which I figure has the latest status info. Offers can come and go quickly and really the only way to be sure of a status is for the realtor to call the listing agent. After we are done for the day I sit and write all kinds of notes, or make sketches if I think it’s important. Some pages, most pages, I just draw a line through, and vote the house off the island before Bob even worries his handsome head over it.
- Online web organizer: I haven’t found a website where you can keep this stuff organized. Each real estate company usually has their own website and search systems, but I’m keeping track of current houses of interest in realtor.com. It is easy for my husband to navigate and access. I can make notes about a property, or even change the name. I wish there was a tab system so you could move saved houses to a tab, for instance by zip code, or even by category such as ramblers, colonials, or even by Sale or Rent categories. So far, you can’t do any of that. The default sort is by date so even if you click on the drop down menu and sort your houses by one of the other choices, it changes back to by date added when you click away.
- Calendar your appointments & drivebys: I think it’s important not to waste agent time, or my time so I’m calendaring my appointments and journaling mileage and trips on a Google calendar of its own. I can access this from my phone or any computer. I can share as well.
- Research the address: One of the tricks I am using is to copy/paste the address of a potential house and search it in Google (Bing has far less results). Sometimes other real estate websites have more pictures, or more details. You can also find mentions, as I did yesterday, on whether a house has been in the news, or even mentioned in the local code violation meeting minutes. I dropped that house like a hot potato. Data is only as good as the person and company that enters it so I am admiring the job that realtors in general are doing to keep this stuff up to date.
Buying a house is a huge purchase and we don’t get much practice usually. This isn’t my strong suit either, so I’m just applying how I normally organize myself to this as a project. It makes me feel more comfortable and feel more in control.
I’d love to hear your house hunt tips, and the results of your successful hunt. What would you do differently? What do you wish you knew before you bought or rented your current home?
Here is a useful, although older listing of useful websites: High-speed house hunting