1. Smart Phone and/or Pen and Paper
This one sounds like a no-brainer but I think you’d be surprised how many people forget their phones or something to jot notes down on. If you like to physically write thing down, make sure you bring pen and paper to each showing. If you’re living your life in the cloud, don’t forget to make a note on your phone for each property you see. We always recommend taking notes while you’re still there so you can remember all the details while they’re still fresh. You’ll want to have notes about road noise, accessibility or any number of things that you like and dislike about each condo. We promise it’s worth the extra minute or two since after seeing a few properties, the details tend to run together.
Even if you’re a pen and paper person (we get you), it’s still very important to bring your phone. For starters, it’s important to know where you are in relation to things like grocery stores and other places your prioritize, and having maps on your phone is the quickest and easiest way to look things up while you’re there. The second and probably most important reason is so you can take photos. It’s easy to remember how a property made you feel but it’s important to know why as well. Feel like the place is dark and gloomy? Well, it might be because it doesn’t have great natural light or it could be that the paint colors were too dark or any number of things. Having photos helps you remember things that you might not have remembered to write down and looking over them later gives you time to think about different aspects of each resective property and compare them.
2. Have Your Important Measurements
This is one of the most forgotten yet vital things. With any property search, you’re having to weigh a thousand different things to find the best fit. If you have some absolute space requirements, it’s important to bring those with you. Many people have a favorite sofa or family heirloom that they have to have in their next property. Don’t start imagining your life in a particular condo if you won’t budge on your king-sized bed and the room is too small.
3. Bring a Tape Measure
While your real estate agent should always have one of these handy, it’s important enough to bring one with you just in case. Tape measures are not only good so you can know you have room for your beloved items as mentioned above, but also for price estimations. If you think that a space could use a refresh, take some quick measurements while you’re there so you can get a basic idea of size for when you get remodel estimates later on. You’ll want to have all the info you can when you’re thinking about total costs and how it stacks up against your budget.
4. Know Your Budget
The dreaded “B” word- budget- is something that should be pretty well decided on before you even really get out there. You don’t have to have it figured out to the exact penny but having a good range of what you can and want to afford will save you and your agent time and heartache. One of the saddest things is falling in love with a property that was always going to be way out of your budget so know what you can spend before you get serious with your search.
In our market right now, we’d even recommend getting your pre-approval letter before heading out to look. It’ll help you know you’re on the right track financially and will also help things move faster if you find your perfect property and you’re ready to start an offer. Chances are that if it’s a great property at a great price in Austin, it’s going to move quickly so you don’t want to miss out! Don’t worry about bringing a printed out paper though, your lender should just email you a copy that’s more than fine.
5. List of Questions for Your Agent
With each property there are probably a million questions you could have swirling around in your mind. We can help you simplify and distill those down to just the most vital ones that are specific to condos. It’s important to focus on some of the bigger questions at first and then dive down into more in-depth ones once you’ve narrowed down your list to just one of two properties. We don’t recommend asking the following questions for every single property, just the ones you’re potentially interested in.
- What’s the HOA fee?
- Do they allow pets- if so, what are the restrictions?
- What is the parking situation?
- Are there any nearby planned developments?
- What’s the price per sq ft?*
- What are the amenities?
*Price per square foot is important metric that should be considered when looking at all properties, but especially condos. If there aren’t very many condos in the area, price per square foot can help give you a general idea about how it’s priced in the market. Not all real estate agents love this metric but we think it’s a great basic measurement and it’s easily found online. We do, however, caution all buyers to not to live and die by this number- it’s a great simple metric but certainly can’t ever give you the whole picture. After all, that’s why you need a great agent 🙂