Okay, it is finally time for a real, useful, how-to post, ‘cause I know people can only handle so many anecdotes about my children before they yell “Who really cares?!?! Get to the parts where you almost die and stuff!” at their screen. So instead let’s talk about how to buy a house off the internet, because even though you haven’t told your husband/wife, it’s been a secret dream of yours for years (or at least ever since you started reading this blog). Am I right, or am I right?
When I say “how to buy a house off the internet” I do not mean how to put in offers and compare comps, because I am no realtor (Maybe someday). What I do mean is: how do you pick one house out of the thousands upon thousands plus thousands of houses and decide to buy it without ever seeing it? First, you’re gonna have to make a list. If he/she is anything like my husband, he/she would probably rather scrub bird droppings off your porch railing with his/her own toothbrush than make a list, but you tell him/her that if he/she ever wants his/her very own dang porch railing covered in bird droppings, then he/she’d better help you make a frappin’ list! (I promise that’s the only sentence I’ll do that in. As tiring as it was to read it, it was even more tiring to write it, I swear). The list must include, but does not have to be limited to: budget, size of home, amount of land, level of fixer-upper-ness, and what you must be close to (church? airport? major hospital?). Oh, and what does close mean? Just making this list will probably be harder than you imagine it will be. For example, when you find out that your spouse doesn’t have the appreciation for craftsman style architecture that you do, you might have to have an existential meltdown and drink a little too much wine and then forget to finish your list for a few days. Hypothetically.
Once you’ve got list in hand (which in itself could take weeks), you can get to the good part- finding your house! For national real-estate ogling purposes, I love Trulia and Realtor.com, plus any and all local and regional websites you can find. The most important rule is that you MUST NOT look at houses outside of your price range. Strictly prohibited! The minute you do, all the homes in your price range will look like absolutely decrepit hovels, so do. not. do it. When you find a house that meets the criteria on your list (you made the list like I told you to, didn’t you?), google the address. See every version of the listing that you can find. Google the name of the selling agent. Find as many photos as you can. Quit looking at homes outside your price range. Look at the google streetview and google earth and the bing birds-eye view. Which direction are the windows pointing? What would you see if you looked out your kitchen window? Quit looking at homes outside your price range. How many inches away is your closest neighbor and what does their house look like? What will you have to look at every day on your way to work or the grocery store? If the house is next to a gas station or across from the sewage treatment plant or some other potentially unsavory locational element, the MLS listing is probably not going to tell you that, so you have to find out for yourself. And seriously, quit looking at houses outside your price range!
If you’ve gotten this far, then you’re ready for step two….coming soon.