Buying a house involves dozens of interrelated decisions, many of which could affect the quality of your life for years to come. No pressure, though!

Working with an experienced real estate agent with whom you feel comfortable is one strategy for successfully navigating many of those pivotal decisions. The ideal buyers’ agent will be familiar with neighborhoods in your target area, and is trained to help you match your requirements with properties in your price range. They can assist you in developing a priority list of things you want and need in your next home.

In addition to noticing the features of each individual house you’re considering, there’s also the bigger picture of the character of the neighborhood in which homes are located. Here are a few things you may want to keep in mind as you visit different homes for sale.

  • Street traffic: There are several distinct disadvantages to living close to a busy street or highway. First of all, there’s the noise factor, which is often a deal breaker for people who thrive on peace and quiet! If you have young children, a busy street can also be a potential safety hazard. When you have cars constantly driving by your house, privacy is another issue to consider.
  • Proximity of houses: Speaking of privacy and quiet, there’s also the question of how physically close houses are situated next to each other. If they’re only ten or twenty feet away, then you might end up knowing more about your neighbors than you really want to! (The reverse of that is also true.) In those instances, privacy hedges and tall fences can provide some benefits.
  • Appearance of the neighborhood: If nearby houses are in run-down condition or poorly maintained, that’s generally a “red flag,” in regard to the quality of the neighborhood. The same can usually be said about prospective neighbors who keep junk vehicles or construction debris on their property for any length of time. If you’re considering a neighborhood with one or more abandoned houses on the street, proceed with caution. However, what you see, is not always what you get! Appearances can be misleading, and there may be plans underway, for example, to demolish a fire-damaged house and replace it with a new and improved home. Very often your real estate agent can find out more about the circumstances surrounding an abandoned or boarded-up house. They may also be able to help you research crime statistics for a particular neighborhood or street.
  • Convenience factors: All things being equal, it’s nice to live within walking distance or a short drive from grocery stores, drug stores, banks, public parks, the post office, child care services, schools, doctors, dentists, hospitals, veterinarians, restaurants, and other amenities.

When you’ve narrowed down your house search to one or two possibilities, a lot of useful information can be gathered by scheduling a couple additional visits and/or walkthroughs — especially at different times of the day or week. Second and third visits to homes you’re considering can definitely shed additional light on factors such as noise level and other quality of life issues.

Although preparing your house for a real estate showing can be hectic, there are ways to make it easier and less stressful. One source of stress for many people is that nagging feeling that they’re forgetting to do something important.

Admittedly, overlooking some things could result in lost sales or even lost valuables, but a little advance planning and organization can help prevent those problems from happening.

The solution is to create a checklist of important reminders and tasks you have to complete before leaving the house. Your real estate agent will provide helpful guidance and tips on effectively preparing your house for showings.

Putting Your Best Foot Forward

When your house is up for sale and it’s being actively marketed, appointments with prospective buyers are sometimes made on the spur of the moment. While real estate agents will be scheduling the appointments and conducting the tours, it’s up to you to ensure that your home is always in tip-top condition. Hopefully, you’ll be able to enlist your family’s help in picking up clothes, putting dirty dishes in the dishwasher, and cleaning up after themselves. If you have small children, they will undoubtedly need assistance in putting away their toys and making their bedrooms look civilized! Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind when getting ready for house showings:

  • Cleanliness (or a lack thereof) will be one of the many things that house hunters notice. While your house may meet their requirements for number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and overall layout, they could quickly lose interest if your floors, countertops, and sinks are visibly dirty.
  • Pets can be a potential issue if your home is scheduled for a showing. Not only can dogs be a distraction if they bark a lot or have other undesirable behaviors, but some people are allergic to dogs and cats. The ideal solution is for a friend, family member, or neighbor to take care of your dog while the house is being shown. Unfortunately that’s not always possible. Sometimes confining your dog to a fenced-in back yard (briefly) or a comfortable crate that they’re accustomed to may be a viable, short-term solution. Several factors would come into play, including the weather, the temperament of your dog, and whether it’s going to bother the neighbors by being outside.
  • Doing your best to eliminate clutter throughout the house is another strategy for making the best possible impression on potential buyers.

Protecting Your Valuables and Privacy

Another priority that some homeowners forget is to hide valuables, such as jewelry, mobile devices, checkbooks, and cash. It’s also a good idea to make sure your computers are password-protected, and that you turn them off before leaving the house. If you have any concerns about security during home showings, you might want to hide computers, personal items, and yesterday’s mail in a secure place. Although most people touring your house will only be interested in its features, d├ęcor, and condition, it’s always good to exercise a little caution when opening your house up to the public.

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