Home shopping can be an arduous process, and at the end of a day of looking at homes, your mind may be a blur of floor plans, parking spots, backyards and front doors. Keeping each home you see straight in your mind can be easy, if you just bring the right tool along for the ride: a home shopping checklist!
That’s right. One of the most powerful tools you can use in the course of your home search is the humble list. Much like the grocery list you bring to the supermarket so that you don’t forget the milk, a home shopping checklist prompts you to assess each of the particular features of a home and community, and then allows you to compare those assessments across every home that you see.
A good checklist will include space for every important feature of a home, including its price, square footage, general condition, outdoor space, and extra amenities like fireplaces or hot tubs. It should also include a place where you can make notes about the surrounding neighborhood (condition of neighbors’ homes, location of busy streets, community perks like parks or playgrounds), as well as important things like the neighboring schools, commute accessibility, and convenience to community amenities such as shops, dining and doctors’ offices.
There are a number of home shopping checklists online, such as this one from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), or this easy-compare version from home finance website Mortgage 101. If neither works completely for you, you can always create your own checklist using a spreadsheet or word processing program. Just use existing checklists as a guide on what to include.
Once you find a checklist that fits your needs and includes the items most important to you, be sure to print out a number of the checklists and bring them with you during your house hunting. You can fill out the checklist once your return to your car, or you can use the it as a reminder of what to examine as you walk through the home. Either way, be sure to fill out the list when your impressions of the home are fresh in your mind. Be honest, be thorough, and your checklist will provide you with a convenient record of your home search, allowing you to clearly consider the pros and cons of each property you saw, without getting confused about which home had what where.
Good luck, and happy house hunting!