So! I discovered that I was doing things out-of-order! The House-Hunting Notebook is going to be very helpful while I'm on my trip, but first there were many, many houses that needed to be sorted through, because they would not all fit in the notebook.
There are lots of websites listing houses for sale. I've mostly been using this one and this one.
Because I didn't know exactly what my options were going to be, I started searching with a broader range of requirements than I wanted to end up with: a little smaller square footage than I wanted, no specific yard size, slightly higher than the price we can afford, a wide variety of locations. These criteria brought up MANY, MANY results, so I needed a way to narrow the results down further.
In our case, there is a pretty large area where we could live, so the number of listings I was looking through was overwhelming because of that. I finally decided to pick a location based on the school ratings; although I home school, there is a good chance we will be moving again in a few years, and we will need to sell this house, so, during this entire process, I have had to keep that fact in the back of my mind and choose a house that I
With the school rankings in mind, I picked the top 3 locations that had been on my list. This helped narrow down the number of houses a little bit, but still: SO MANY.
I went through all of the listing results that came up and briefly looked at each one, keeping in mind the different categories in the notebook. If, after this initial look, I thought the house could work, I copied and pasted the web address (which, for the site I linked to above, included the street address) into an email draft with the subject: houses to look at later. I chose an email draft because, with the email program I am using, it allows me to keep lots of different windows open at the same time, but you could also use a word processing document. This part took a lot of time at first because of the number of houses available. I suggest doing this 3-4 weeks before you go house hunting.
After I had made it through all of the listings for my areas from my initial search, I've gone back about once a week to see if there are any new listings; this doesn't take NEARLY as long as the initial search.
Next, it was time to look at the houses more closely, to narrow the selection down. In my case, I had about 60 houses left at this point. I opened another email draft and gave it the subject "deleted houses" because I know my
Then, I opened G00gle maps. As I went through the list of "houses to look at later", I clicked on the link for each house, copied the street address, and pasted it into G00gle maps. I got directions from that house to Husband's work and made note of the time. I zoomed in on the house to see it closer.
- Was it on or near a busy street?
- How close was the house to the neighbor's houses?
- Were there any streams or lakes nearby?
- Was the yard going to work for us?
- Was there a fence (this could have changed because I don't know how old the g00gle pictures are, but I made a note of this anyway)?
Then I went back to the house listing. Underneath the web address in my email draft, I listed this information: # of bedrooms, square footage of the house, size of the yard/lot, school district, whether or not it had a basement, and price. On the line underneath that, I put things I noticed as I looked through the house pictures:
- Was there a nice kitchen?
- Would we need to buy a refrigerator?
- Were the rooms nicely painted (in colors I would enjoy and not have to paint myself)?
- What kind of flooring in the main house and bedrooms?
- Were there mature trees in the yard?
- Was the laundry room a cave or did it have a window and cabinets?
I looked up the information for our current house to help me compare. We need more space in the house and the yard, so any houses that were too close to our current measurements were cut.
I still had too many houses on the list, and then I remembered Swistle's tier system for rating chocolates and thought something similar could work for houses too! I decided to dream big and make the requirements for the top tier very specific and as close to dream house specifications as I could force myself to
- Tier 1: x+ bedrooms, x+ square feet, x+ acres, certain school districts, basement
- Tier 2: x+ bedrooms, >x square feet, >x acres, certain school districts, may or may not have a basement
So! About once a week until I leave, I will do a new search and see if there are any new listings that meet Tier 1 or Tier 2 requirements and add them to the appropriate list.
The week before I leave to go house-hunting, I will
Now, what are the chances I will actually be able to buy a house in a one-week period of time? (Don't answer that.)