Searching for a Local Home for Sale: What’s the Best Approach?

If you had to characterize the way future homeowners approach how they find their next home for sale, you’d likely say that they fall into a couple of major categories. Both approaches work: which is better is really about the way you tend to tackle any problem. But if I had to choose, there is one approach I’d have to say is superior.

The first approach is to dig right into it. You call up the town Realtor® to discuss the state of the market, lay out your goals and ideas, and listen to what is proposed as the next step. If what you hear sounds good, you give the thumbs-up, and—voila!—it’s underway! Taking this approach, you let the pro ask the questions that her or his experience dictates. Fine points not covered initially will come up as the process narrows.

This is an approach that certainly makes sense—after all, who knows better what details are most important as you begin your house hunt? Most people find themselves searching for a home for sale only once in a blue moon. The real estate pros are at it daily. Plus, we know the current local inventory: homes that are currently on the market (and often, some that will be coming on before long). If there is a local home for sale that fits your criteria but which is likely to be gone soon, a showing can be arranged at once. Especially for those whose time is at a premium, this approach is efficient.

The other approach is for those who naturally gravitate to a more ‘hands-on’ plan of attack. This is automatically adopted by people who are more comfortable after they’ve prepared as much as possible. They want to familiarize themselves with the state of the market and everything that’s currently affecting it. They will almost certainly have been online for a while, have examined the listing details for relevant current homes for sale in town, and possibly even dropped in on some weekend open houses. When they do contact their area Realtor, they know pretty much the direction their house hunting project should be pointing toward.

Which approach is better? Which one is more likely to find your dream house? (I bet you know that’s a rhetorical question.)

The safe answer is that the best approach is a level-headed combination of the two.

For people in the first group, taking a look at the online listings to get a feel for the homes for sale in town is an incredibly effortless and efficient way to get an instant overview of what’s out there (and at what cost). For the second group, likewise: it’s no longer necessary to spend hours or days preparing a detailed wish list of must-have and nearly must-have and would-be-nice property feature alternatives. Point your agent at an MLS listing or two for any local homes for sale that seem interesting, and you’ll receive back a list of serious candidate properties to take a look at—followed by a proposed in-person home tour agenda.

Well—at least that’s what will happen if ‘your’ agent happens to be me…so let’s have a chat!

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