What you need to get started is a free home search evaluation

Making appointments to view houses that are on the market is fun. If you are not just window-shopping but are seriously looking for property, the chance to tour a home can be critical to your financial decisions and have an impact on your personal living situation for years to come. But touring condos and houses can also be a way to waste a perfectly good weekend, especially if you are not sure exactly what to look for or how to maximize the brief window of opportunity that a real estate showing provides.


Prioritize by Price and Amenities

Before venturing out to see listings, first organize your strategy by following these simple guidelines:

First decide exactly what your price range is, and stick to it. Otherwise you'll spend time looking at the wrong houses. And touring homes above their pay grade often inspires buyers to spend much more money than they can really afford. 

List the amenities that are deal breakers. If you absolutely require a basement or a garage, don't waste time looking at listings that don't have these features. If proximity to work or schools is critical, don't wander outside those geographical parameters.


Put Your Realtor to Work 

Find what meets your specs, and let your agent preview the houses

If you're working with a real estate agent whose job it is to help you find a home to buy, never accept an appointment to view a home that they have not already previewed. You will only risk wasting both their time and yours.

Ask your Realtor to notify you after he or she has located and already toured at least three properties that match your criteria. Let them first share any insights they got from seeing the homes in person, and if you are still interested, make the appointments.



Easier said than done, but remember to bring your notepad

If you view lots of homes in the same day it is easy to get them mixed up, so be prepared to take notes, with a pen and notebook and a camera. Note the most remarkable features - both positive and negative - and attach your notes and pictures to the listing sheet for future reference.



Don't get distracted by the colors and staging

Many buyers fall in love with a home and later find out that it has some dark and disturbing secrets. Examine fundamental features of the home that can have costly ramifications first, such as the condition of the roof, the paint job, and the age of the heating and cooling systems. 

Study the ceilings for telltale signs of stains or of a recent patch job, for instance, because those could indicate a leaky roof or plumbing system, and check for moisture and mold in basements.



Do you need a second opinion on something?

Once you narrow down the prospects and book follow-up appointments, it may be time to request the help of an expert to give the property professional scrutiny if it's earned one. Bring along a friend who understands construction or hire a contractor to accompany you as you tour the home. 

Don't ask them to inspect the house. You can hire a licensed building inspector to do a thorough examination after you make an offer. But do have them give it a good once-over to detect anything fairly obvious that you might have missed.