[Note: This is part of an ongoing series on Tim’s personal homebuying experience.]
I thought I would continue the Knife-Catcher series by focusing a little more on our specific home selection process. Here are the basic steps we went through when looking for a home:
- Look at listings online.
- Narrow list, tour homes.
- Eliminated all toured homes, back to step 1.
- Re-tour homes of interest, make an offer.
- Get offer response, make counter-offer, etc.
- Conclude offer process, back to step 1.
Once we had narrowed down which neighborhoods we wanted to focus our home search on, we basically started scouring every home on the market up to about 20% above our maximum target price (accounting for low-balling a stale, overpriced listing).
As we browsed homes online and decided which ones to tour, we used a shorter version of the criteria that was described in the neighborhood post. Basically, we were looking for homes that had at least 1,000 square feet, two bedrooms, a 5,000 square foot lot, off-street parking for two cars, and a usable basement. If a home lacked one or two of the items on the list, we might still tour it if it was cheap enough.
We had no lower price limit, and even toured one home that was listed at $84,900 (that one basically needed to be completely gutted—among other issues, the overpowering stench of cigarette smoke permeated the whole home). All told, we toured over two dozen homes, spread across seven or eight outings.
Most of the homes we toured were eliminated from consideration almost as soon as we stepped in the door. Those that made it past the first cut usually merited a second tour, then an offer. During the second tour we would usually shoot a walkthrough video to share privately on YouTube with our close friends and family. Here’s a compilation of the opening shots from those videos on the five homes we made offers on:
Here’s a summary what happened with the five homes we eventually made offers on. Most of these required significant work, which we were ready and willing to do ourselves if we could get a good enough deal on the home.
List price: $189,900
Days on Market: 84
Offer: $180,000 on 12/21/2010
Result: 2nd offer during negotiation resulted in multiple offer sudden death, lost to other buyer.
Status: Sold 02/12/2011 @ $197,000
List price: $130,000
Days on Market: 70
Offer: $100,000 on 02/22/2011
Result: Bank had already accepted another offer (even though the listing was not pending) & rejected ours.
Status: Pending sale fell through, relisted 03/30, sold 05/03/2011 @ $114,000
List price: $142,000
Days on Market: 4
Offer: $142,000 on 03/07/2011
Result: Bank sat on offer for a week, then informed us of multiple offer sudden death again.
Status: Sold 04/22/2011 @ $147,000
Even when we had extended an offer on a home or were under contract on the first and last homes, we continued our search online, constantly looking for something that might better line up with our needs, comparing to new rentals in the area, and watching sold trends.
All in all, the process was fairly tiring, and isn’t something I’d particularly enjoy doing again any time soon. Fortunately our hunt was focused on attaining actual home ownership rather than some sort of first step on the mytical “equity ladder,” so I don’t think it’s a process I’ll be repeating in the near or mid-term.