I was talking to one of our home buying clients earlier this week. He’s a single guy and he told me that buying a home feels a little like online dating. That made me laugh out loud, but then when he elaborated, I decided he might be right!
I’M NOT SURE I CAN TRUST THE PHOTOS
Anyone who has ever created an online dating profile is guilty of posting at least one picture that’s a half-truth. With high-resolution cameras on our phones and pixel manipulating software on all these photo apps, it’s pretty easy to “doctor up” your photos to the point that someone is unrecognizable.
In the same way, you never get the full picture from listing photos. I’ve walked into homes that I thought would feel cramped, only to find vaulted ceilings and plenty of windows that helped make the space feel bigger. I’ve planned entire barbecues in my head based on a single photo of a backyard, before visiting the home and realizing the patio was overshadowed most of the day. One home had photos that showcased plenty of vintage charm, but in person I realized the place actually needed several updates. Photos don’t show the dings, scratches, and problems. My client laughed and said, “Trust me, it’s the same thing with the women on all these dating apps!”
I’M DUSTING OFF MY INTERNET STALKING SKILLS
My client explained that he’s been burned a few times so he Googles them first, making sure the law firm they claimed to work for actually existed and maybe to clarify a pop culture reference they made in their profile.
But when it comes to house hunting, most homebuyers are taking internet research to the next level. They look up the address on Google maps, make a list of nearby restaurants and map how long it would take to walk or drive to their favorite coffee shop. They look at the street view to see if the nearby park is somewhere they would enjoy going for a run or if it’s mostly dominated by playgrounds. Buyers look at school reviews, check sexual predator websites, and sometimes even Google the sellers names just to see what they can find out about them.
Sometimes it seems they spend more time researching the home and neighborhood, than actually reading the listing description and sellers disclosure, which brings me to my next point…
I’M READING BETWEEN THE LINES OF CREATIVE PROFILES
Just as it’s never a good idea to set up a date based solely on profile photos, it’s also not a good idea to set up a showing based solely on online images. I’ve found that the listing descriptions are not only helpful, but important. Many descriptions offer hints and tips about the property that you might not be able to glean from the photos. One I saw pointed out that the restaurant around the corner was recently rated the best in my city, and others have listed local farmers markets or music festivals that are within walking distance in the summer (something you might not pick up on in the middle of winter).
Plus, not everything you see is what you get – for example, the homeowners may be taking the washer/dryer set in the pictures with them when they move out. That will be clarified in the listing description. This listing description may also mention if a condo doesn’t include pets (similar to my dates, my future home needs to be cat-friendly). Hidden in one description was the fact the owner was willing to sell their home-brewing equipment currently set up in the basement, which would have been a nice bonus.
One description I especially loved promised a “farm-to-table experience” from the backyard that came complete with a fruit tree and herb garden – useful to know since the garden wasn’t in bloom when we toured the property in January.
I’M OVERANALYZING EVERYTHING
“Should I text him first?” “Will he think meeting at a brewery is too informal?” “Did I talk too much about myself?” There’s nothing like an internet date to get us to question everything.
Now that my client is on the house hunt, his overthinking has returned and made him nervous. After all, it’s a huge investment that he’s worked for and planned for years. Before, he has been able to simply move when his lease was up if he decided he didn’t like his apartment. It’s not that easy with a house. First time home buyers tend to overthink their decisions as if this is their “forever home” that they’re going to marry and live with the rest of their life!
What will it cost to remodel that bathroom? When will I need to replace that 15 year old roof? How will I know this is the right neighborhood? What if I end up hating this house one year later? Trust me, everything is on the table to make a buyer nervous. It’s like that first date when you’re asking hundreds of questions and trying to decide if she’s the one you want to marry.
I’LL KNOW WHEN I FIND THE RIGHT ONE
Believe it or not, this is not that crazy to think, “I’ll just know it’s the right one when I see it.” That’s actually how most people end up choosing a home (and a partner too). Sometimes they make the decision after only seeing the family room and kitchen. They still hate that weird basement, but it just feels like home. I think there’s just a gut feeling they get, whether it’s someone they fall in love with, or a home they just have to have. Somehow, they just know it’s right!