May 30 2011
I have a little tote bag filled with some tools to help with our house-hunting:
- Notebook solely for house info. I jot down notes on houses we’ve toured, sketch quick floor plans to remind me of what I’ve seen, store lists of our must-haves and would-likes, list pros & cons of what we’ve seen, etc. It’s helpful to have all of this info in one place, because details can easily be forgotten when you’ve seen a few houses.
- A flashlight. Some houses are empty and the lighting might not be powerful enough to see aspects of the room. Also, I use it to get more detail on what’s going on under sinks (don’t want to see evidence of leaks or mildew!). I’ve used my light to get a closer look at what info is listed on the furnace for me to write down and look up later if I wanted. Lastly, I’ve pointed my flashlight into a house’s crawl space to peek at the situation down there. My shoes and clothing choices that day didn’t make it a good idea for me to actually get in the space, but I could see a fair amount just by peeking and shining my light.
- A tape measure. Listed room dimensions on the sale sheet do not necessarily equal reality. We toured a house that had the kitchen, dining area and family room flow in one big space. The dimensions on the list sheet were much more than the dimensions we measured ourselves. It’s also handy to measure things like available countertop space. For example, some people see a kitchen with a large floor space and assume it’s a “big” kitchen. But if it’s poorly laid out and doesn’t actually have much counter space, that’s something to consider.
- A camera. It’s helpful to take pictures if the online listing doesn’t show a particular detail or room. Plus, I can fire my flash in a dimly-lit room and the image can show a lot of detail that I might not see otherwise.
I have an online toolkit of sorts too, to help me evaluate listings:
- I’ve been using our realtor’s MLS page to help search for a house meeting our criteria
- GreatSchools helps me evaluate areas based on school system. Even if you don’t have school-aged children or will insist on private school or home school for them, it is important to consider the public school system for future resale considerations.
- Crime info listed on the IndyGov site and the Marion County homicide map on the Indy Star site
- A map of where registered offenders live
- Info on City-Data to show general census data of areas, but also the message boards are helpful to get perspective on neighborhoods and towns.
- Neighborhood Scout for general info on neighborhoods
- And Google Maps to view a house’s proximity to other things and also the street view feature to get a better look at the house and neighbhorhood.
What else can I add to my online or physical toolkits?