This is for my first time home buyers AND my first time rental buyers! If you are going to live in the house you’re buying or if you are going to try to convince a tenant to live there, you really want to be able to get a good feel for the neighborhood. I highly suggest you stalk the place. Yes, STALK!
STALK stands for:
Sit outside and observe. Often times, buyers will schedule a showing of a property with their real estate agent, arrive at the property, go right in side, view it and leave- forgetting one very important part of the process! Sitting and observing the area. How’s the traffic on the street? Is there ample parking? Is there a loud train that passes by or is it near a flight path? It’s amazing what you notice when you take a moment to sit and observe before and after you view a property.
Talk to neighbors. Our very first home purchase was almost a condo. ALMOST. We were under contract and everything. It was a condo in a building that had not been built yet so we went to the site one day to make some final decisions on what tile we wanted. We were walking back to our car and saw a guy walking out of one of the buildings that was already finished. We asked him what he thought about the place and if he liked living there. He said the walls were SO thin he could hear every single thing that his neighbors did and he wished he’d never bought the place. Yikes. Thankfully there was a clause in our contract that allowed us to cancel it within 15 days. We talked to that neighbor on day 14. Yep. We cut it really close. And we learned to never ever make that mistake again. Now, we always talk to the neighbors before sealing the deal. Always. You would be surprised how willing people are to tell you about the neighborhood, why the house is being sold, and more. If you see a neighbor out and about while you are stalking the place, tell them you are interested in buying the place and want to know how they like living in the area.
Always go at various times. Go visit it on different days at different times and just sit and observe for a while. Don’t just go on Sundays at 3pm. Go in the middle of the week, go late at night, go early in the morning. You will be amazed how much you can learn about the neighborhood from just visiting multiple times and observing.
Look up future plans for the area. When scouting out a property, research future plans for the neighborhood and surrounding area. Go to the Office of City Planning website for your city or attend city planning meetings.
Keep a record of everything you see so that you can compare each property you view. I can’t stress this enough- take notes! There have been many times when we get details mixed up because we’ve viewed so many properties in a day! Don’t waste your time this way- be sure to take notes so that you can compare at the end of the day. If you need a great notebook with prompts and tips, I collaborated with All Things Real Estate to create this Home Buyer Guide Notebook! Get it here.
Pro Tip: If you’re buying a property out of State and you can’t physically STALK the property- you can virtually stalk it via the internet, rely on friends or family that live there, or get a real estate agent that can tell you everything you need to know. (If you are looking for an amazing real estate agent to help you start your search, let me know here. I know some amazing agents all over the map.)
(P.S. Let me know how your property stalking is going! Tag me @thekeyresource on Instagram)