Try to focus on what is most important to you and see which homes fit the bill. If it is a buyers market and there are a lot of homes to choose from, you may find that there are too many on your maybe list. If you looked at the homes during business hours maybe take this time to do a drive by of each home at about 7 in the evening. Everyone is home from work and school and this will give you a good indication of how crowded the street is or isn't. This is the time to get choosy.
In a seller's market when there isn't a lot of choice we have a tendency to rationalize and say "it's just paint". In a buyer's market you can use paint as a determining factor. Of the homes that fit the bill which ones:
- are move in ready? No painting required.
- fit your massive dining room table that seats 12?
- have a heated garage (may not be important to you but it's great resale)?
- fit your idea of easy care landscaping? Not everyone loves to garden.
In other words: get picky. When there is a lot to choose from I try to get my buyer's to narrow the list down to 5 homes for second looks. We will book longer appointments and ask for average utility costs and confirm municipal tax amounts. When buyers first see a home they are often "wowed" by the staging and decoration, now we need to look around that. Is it just mascara on a pig?
During that longer appointment I want you to focus on the details of the home such as:
- How well has it been maintained? Yes it's pretty, but is the caulking moldy in the shower?
- Cleanliness. Usually if a home is spotless for showings it will be spotless on possession. Again check that oven, it tells a story all its own. Do we need to add a clause about professional cleaning?
- Furnace? Are there any stickers on it saying when it was last serviced and cleaned?
- Garage? Usually overlooked during the first showing but now is the time to check if your car or truck will fit or will it just be an oversized shed?
At the end of all of that you need to make a decision and even in a buyer's market I will give you this one caveat: If you really like a home - do not hesitate. Chances are that someone else really likes it too. So ask yourself this one question: If you go to bed tonight to think about it while someone else decides to negotiate an offer, will you be heartbroken?