Each day, you get an email with multiple listing service information for homes that the computer thinks might meet your criteria. So how do you figure out which homes actually do fit your wish list without visiting them in person? Here are a few hints:
- We used to have to cram the entire description into six lines of text in each listing’s general description. Now we can write a book about each one. And most of the excess verbiage is made up of adjectives – fabulous, awesome, huge, magical. Kill the adjectives and focus on the facts.
- Look at the actual square footage. I’ve seen 500 square foot condos described as “huge”. In a house, they should separate the above grade space from the basements. With condos, they don’t necessarily. In DC, the space is calculated by measuring the house or condo’s outside dimensions, which include the space the exterior walls take up, as well as closets, hallways and some utility space.
- The photos are usually taken with wide-angle lens to allow more of the room to fit into each shot. But this also makes each room look a lot larger than it actually is. And then there is Photoshop, which isn’t necessarily your friend when you are trying to get a realistic idea of what the property looks like.
- Many of us are using Matterhorn Virtual tours. These are 3-D tours that let you “walk” through the property, led around by your computer’s mouse. These give you a better idea of rooms sizes, and they even have a virtual tape measure so you can measure walls, alcoves and ceiling heights to see if your furniture will fit.
- Views, especially in condos, can make or break a home’s appeal. And many view photos are taken from roof decks rather than out the windows of the actual unit. You can enlarge the photos to see if you can take a virtual look out the windows. If they don’t have shots of windows, or if curtains or shutters are closed, assume it’s an “urban view” – that would be brick walls of the building next door.
- I’ve seen some great homes that look awful in their photos, especially if the home is occupied and isn’t staged. There might be slob tenants who are in no hurry to move out. Keep an open mind.
- Condos that are advertised as “terrace level” are usually basement units.
- “Close to Metro” or a picture of a Metro station doesn’t always mean you can walk to the nearest station. Look at the map to check the exact location of public transportation.
- If you have pets, make sure the community you are considering is pet friendly. Some condos don’t allow them at all, and some communities place restrictions on type, size and breeds, at least for dogs. If the listing doesn’t include pet information, ask your agent for clarification.
Before you visit homes in person, you can let your fingers do some driving and walking before you head out to see places. You can filter out the homes that have obvious deal breakers. You can also rely on your agent to preview homes that look questionable but could be great. We can do virtual showings using FaceTime.
If you are contemplating a move, please give me a call or send a text to 202-549-5167 and I’d be glad to meet with you, either in person or on Zoom to help you get started.