More than 5.5 million homes are sold in the U.S. each year. And before many of those millions of buyers made their decision, they toured the home.
Even as virtual tours and online marketplaces become more popular, nothing beats an in-person to visit your potential future home.
You get to see, touch, and experience the property. You can open cabinets, sit on the front porch, look out the windows, stand in the shower; everything you can do to imagine yourself living in the home.
But home tours aren't all fun and games. If you've never been on one before, they can be intimidating. And if you don't make the most of them, you're wasting your time even visiting a home.
Keep reading to learn 10 tips for touring houses for sale in Clear Lake, Iowa.
1. Let Your Realtor Do Their Job
Starting your house-hunting adventure is exciting.
Suddenly, every house you see is a potential home. Driving through neighborhoods, every 'for sale' sign that you see have you slowing down your car to examine the landscaping, check out those picture windows, and maybe jot down a contact number.
But while you definitely should take down that number and make note of the address, don't pick up your phone just yet.
If you've decided to work with a Realtor, like 90 percent of buyers and sellers, initiating your own home tours is a big mistake.
If you aren't working with a Realtor, you have no choice. Unfortunately, you'll be faced with taking a tour while the homeowner hovers. You'll be in the awkward situation of asking about or deciphering the details about a property.
Then, if you do decide to make an offer, you'll be at a disadvantage. Homeowners expect Realtors to know what a home is worth and what the market is like, and will be less likely to try to mark up the price above what it's worth.
If they think you're inexperienced, the homeowner may automatically feel like they have the upper hand, and the price may reflect that.
Your Realtor knows the in's and out's of negotiating, investigating, and finding the perfect home for you. If you've found a home that your Realtor didn't mention, you should pass the address and contact information along to him or her.
If the home is within your search area, you'll likely find that your Realtor has already considered it for you, and found that it didn't match one of your criteria anyway!
2. Don't Let Small Details Make You Blind to Big Issues
Before you ever step foot in a home for a tour, you should have a list of your needs and wants. Some of those 'wants' are likely minor and are things you could easily add to home after you've bought it, like new appliances or a large porch.
But 'needs' are often tougher to change.
Maybe your family needs a certain number of bedrooms. Or you have your heart set on an open floor plan.
If a home doesn't have one of the things you need, you may not be able to do anything to change that.
When you start touring homes, it's important to keep those needs in mind, and not let minor details or wants to cloud your judgment.
3. Lay Off the Caffeine
A long day of house hunting will certainly take its a toll.
But before you swing by your local coffee house to grab the largest cup you can get your hands on, think twice. When the inevitable urge strikes, you'll be left using a strangers bathroom in whatever home you're touring.
If the homeowner is still living there, you're in the somewhat awkward position of using their toilet and toilet paper. If the house is unoccupied, the awkwardness might be gone, but the toilet paper may be as well.
It's perfectly acceptable to use the bathroom in a home that you're touring if you need to. However, if you know you'll be going to several homes, the last thing you want to do is have to keep going constantly.
Plan in stops for snacks and something to drink at restaurants or coffee shops in between. While touring houses, stick to water to stay hydrated to cut down on bathroom breaks.
4. Open Everything
Some first time home buyers feel shy during their tour, especially if the homeowner is still living there.
But if you don't open up closets, cabinets, and other doors, you won't get the full picture of what the home is like or how it might work for you.
Homeowners and Realtors expect you to look at everything before you can even think about making an off on a house. And they want you to make that offer, so make sure that you're opening every door you see!
Take note of the storage space and layout so that you can consider what it'd be like if your family had to store your own belongings there.
5. Pack a Tape Measure
If you plan to bring your furniture with you when you move, measure the big pieces, like your bed, couch, or entertainment center.
Then, pack a tape measure when you go on home tours.
You don't want to buy a home, find out your furniture doesn't fit, and then have to buy new. This could set you back thousands of dollars that you weren't planning to spend.
6. Rethink Your Outfit
You aren't going to be able to really pay attention to a home and all of its little details if you're sweating through your shirt or shivering.
While it may seem unrelated, what you wear for a home tour is important. You should always dress in a way that keeps you comfortable and relaxed.
There's no need to dress up for your Realtor or the homeowner showing you space. Instead, casual clothes that you won't mind wearing all day as you climb stairs and explore the basement is the best choice.
Your footwear is equally important.
If a home has new carpet or if it is currently empty, odds are that you'll be asked to remove your shoes. Even if you aren't, removing them at the door is a great way to show your respect for the homeowner or selling Realtor.
Shoes that need to be tied or that are difficult to remove will leave you struggling at the door. Some Realtors will provide slip-on covers that you can put over your shoes. But these are often slick and can make climbing stairs or walking across hardwood floors a hazard.
Instead, opt for slip-on shoes or flip flops that you can easily slip on and off as needed.
7. Judge a Book By its Cover (At Least a Little Bit)
When it comes to a home's exterior, there are some things you can overlook and others that you should take as warning signs that something may be wrong.
Landscaping can easily be groomed. Garage doors, while expensive, can be replaced. You can even repaint or replace the siding on the front of your home, though it will set you back several thousand bucks.
But a roof that looks old or damaged, cracked foundations, a crumbling front porch, old windows, or a driveway that's covered in cracks and turning to gravel around the edges are all indicators of major, very expensive repairs.
In some cases, a bad roof or a damaged foundation can be major enough problems that you might struggle to get approved for a mortgage after the home inspection is complete.
8. Visit Homes at Different Times of the Day
If you've found a home that you really love, and you have the time, visit the neighborhood at different times of the day.
The neighborhood you're moving to can be as important, or even more important, than the house itself.
You'll want to check out the traffic flow and the atmosphere of the neighborhood early in the day, in the evening, and even at night.
The last thing you want to do is buy a home and then find out that your morning commute will be double what you were expecting. Or that the neighborhood becomes questionable after dark.
9. Stay Neutral During the Tour
During your home tour, if the homeowner or other potential buyers are present, keep your discussion of the home and its features neutral.
There are two downsides to voicing your opinion, especially in front of the homeowner or the Realtor selling the property.
If you love a home and express that, you'll love some negotiating power because the homeowner knows that you're serious about buying. But if you trash a home, then make an offer, a homeowner might be tempted to take an offer from a different buyer out of spite.
Whether you're a first time home buyer or a repeat purchaser, keeping your opinions neutral is an important skill to learn.
10. Look Past the Decor
This may be the toughest tip to follow during a home tour. But paying too much attention to the current owner's decor and belongings will only prevent you from noticing the bones of a home.
If you choose to buy, you'll get to start with a fresh slate that you can paint, decorate, and arrange however you'd like. Make sure that the blank slate is what you're picturing while you're wandering your potential future home.
Shop Houses for Sale in Clear Lake, Iowa
Now that you've learned what you need to know about touring houses for sale in Clear Lake, Iowa, it's time to start scheduling some visits of your own.
Start searching for homes for sale in Clear Lake today!