House Hunting 2016: How To Enjoy Your Experience

There are parts of house hunting that suck, many of which can’t be avoided and some that can; we covered those last week.

But as much as the process of searching for a home is inherently stressful and going to lead you to some moments where you’re really not having any fun and strongly consider quitting, staying put and never discussing moving again, tracking down the house that is right for you doesn’t have to be a completely joyless endeavor.

For the most part, it should be fun and being in the midst of the process, I thought I’d share a few tips for enjoying your experience.

Hire the Right Real Estate Agent

I know what you’re saying: “How do we know which one is the right one?”

It’s a tough question to answer, especially if you’re new to town and just picking names out of a hat, but even in that situation, there are ways to make sure you get someone you click with.

Ask around at work or in your neighbourhood; find out who other people used, what their experiences were like and test drive the people they suggest. Have them line up a couple places for you based on your preferred criteria and spend an afternoon with them check them out. You’ll know pretty quickly if there is a fit or not.

If there is not a fit, switch agents; find someone different. There’s no rule that says the first agent you work is the one and only agent you’re allowed to work with. This isn’t a “too bad – you’re stuck with him” situation. Be honest (but not brutally honest) and civil about parting ways, give some feedback and start again. It might be a little awkward, but you have to do what is best for you.

Note: this applies with banks/mortgage brokers too; you don’t have to stick with the first one you talk to.

We lucked out because a family friend in the area happens to be a real estate agent, so working with him was an easy choice. Additionally, he’s the most thorough, prepared and honest real estate agent I’ve ever dealt with and having moved a ton as a kid and helped my mother-in-law find a place back in Victoria, I have a little experience in this area.

He’s responsive, plays Devil’s Advocate when needed and isn’t just trying to hustle us through home after home. We’re a three-person team and that is essential. If you’re in the Vancouver area, I highly recommend him and not just because we’re friends: Yilun Jiang, Magsen Realty.

Make a Day of Checking Things Out

Whether you’re just going to Open Houses (which is sometimes fun even if you’re not looking to buy) or bouncing around between viewing appointments, do your best to make a day of it. I know this isn’t always possible because of work schedules and sellers that may only want to let you through their place at certain times, but in those early stages when you’re just getting your feet wet, it should be pretty easy.

As best as you can, don’t count on doing anything else that day. Get up and review the listings you’re going to look at. Make notes. Write down questions you want to ask and things you want to double-check.

Shower up, put on something a little nicer than normal – something you’d wear out on a date – allow yourself to be excited.

Stop and get a coffee or some little treat on your way in. Mindset is crucial in this venture and we’re all a little happier when we’ve got our favourite fancy hot beverage or a sweet delicacy in front of us.

And then just cruise through as many places as you have lined up, pausing after each one to talk about the pros and cons, chuckle at the dated décor or try to shake off the icky feeling that comes with touring some place that feels creepy. Review your notes and the listing for the next place, get there and repeat.

If you can, regroup afterward with dinner or drinks in order to talk about what you liked and didn’t like; refine your search.

Expand Your Search and Don’t Give Up

MLS can be a terrific tool, so play around with it.

Change the number of bedrooms you’re looking for. Scroll a little further in each direction and see if there is anything outside your preferred area that intrigues you. Reconsider places that you already dismissed or your hard line against townhomes or condos or apartments.

Check out new developments on line before they’re even built and up for sale. Cruise around town and make note of where there is a ton of inventory and where there is not so much and investigate why.

And don’t get disheartened. I know it can be a long, frustrating, maddening experience, but the same can be said for just about anything that is actually worth doing and the joy you’ll feel when you find that place that speaks to you – the place that feels like home – will make it all worth it.

I hope. We’re not there yet.

The hunt continues.

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