Looking At Houses

During: Buying Process Overview: Showings: Looking At Houses

Looking At Houses is all about actually looking at houses. It is the fourth and final step in the Showings process.


The Looking At Houses process is shown below.

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Complete the "Showings: Looking at Houses" checklist:


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Showings: Looking at HousesUltimate Nomad ChecklistWeek 3Week 4Week 5Week 6Week 7Week 8

Review the recording of the live presentation of "Looking at Houses" available on:


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Get Your First Deal DoneNomad BasicsPre-ShowingsShowings: Looking at HousesUltimate Nomad ChecklistWeek 3

Discuss the following tips for when you go on Showings with your Real Estate Broker:

  • Wear easy to remove shoes
  • WARNING: Sellers can easily record audio (and video) of you while inside their home... don't say anything inside the home that you wouldn't say right in front of the Seller. This is especially true of offer price and strategy.
  • Arrive 5 minutes early. Some Showing windows are very strict time ranges.
  • There may be others present at the Showing.
  • If Tenants are present, we typically will ask them questions about the property.
  • Drive/walk around the neighborhood especially if you're interested in the property.
  • Consider using the +/- system to make property notes.

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Get Your First Deal DoneNomad BasicsPre-ShowingsShowings: Looking at HousesUltimate Nomad ChecklistWeek 3

Discuss the following with your Real Estate Broker when you you're out on a Showing and considering making an offer:

  • Meet the neighbors... tell them you're considering making an offer on the property and ask them how they like the neighborhood.
  • What appliances are included? Which are excluded?
  • What school district is this in?
  • Is the AC included? What type of heat is used in the property?
  • Where is the water disconnect located?
  • What is the age and likely need to replace or update the major, expensive items like:
    furnance, AC, roof, carpet, paint, hot water heater. You'll also check these during inspection.
  • Where are the property lines?
  • Is there adequate parking? Is it owned? Is there adequate garage spaces? Is it owned?
  • What does the HOA cost? What is included?
  • Is there anything from the current "Seller's Property Disclosure"?
  • Is there anything from previous "Seller's Property Disclosure" from past sales?
  • Where is the sewer cleanout?
  • Are there smoke/CO detectors within 15 feet of each bedroom doorway?
  • Does the house already have a radon mitigation system? Is it passive or active?
  • Will you be having a property inspection (it is recommended)? Will you be testing for radon? Mold? Meth? Termiates? Sewer scope?
  • If this is a condo, is it a warrantable or non-warrantable condo?
  • What are the secret broker comments on the "MLS Sheet"?
  • What due diligence documents are you going to want to see?
  • Are there any additional documents provided by the Seller's agent in the MLS?

Mark this task as complete when done.

Get Your First Deal DoneNomad BasicsPre-ShowingsShowings: Looking at HousesUltimate Nomad ChecklistWeek 3

Here’s a video overview of the process:

  • What to Wear
  • Shoes that are easy to slip on and off
    Many Sellers request you take your shoes off when entering the house
    Especially in wet or muddy weather
    Bring Flashlight
    Vacant houses with no overhead lights
    Switches operate wall outlets
    Crawl spaces and basements
    Foreclosures and HUD properties power may be off
    I usually have flashlights in my car
    Sensitive Conversations in House
    “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.”
    ― Joseph Heller, Catch-22

    Remote audio and video recording devices may be inside the house
    Avoid having sensitive conversations in the house that you would not have in front of the Seller or the Seller’s Agent
    Information about what you’d offer
    Information about your offer strategy and plans with the house
    Offensive comments about design and/or how people live
    Photos of Properties
    You will need explicit permission of the Seller and/or Tenant
    Don’t take photos inside houses with Seller or Tenant personal belongings present
    Multiple Buyers At Properties
    With our hot market, it is not unusual to have multiple buyers at the property
    Polite to wait for person already viewing
    However, it there are several showings scheduled it will often become more of an open house
    Be aware of saying certain things where other agents and buyers can hear
    Multi-Unit Availability
    Most of the time you won’t be able to see all the units on the first showing
    Often you’ll need to make an offer based on the units you can see and then inspect the rest during the inspection period
    Looking At Properties
    Neighborhood and surrounding area
    Inside of Property
    Outside of Property
    Before the showing
    Look at online map and Google street view
    Look at school district, distance to stores, freeway, etc.
    In some cases, do a drive by of the property and neighborhood before scheduling the showing
    On the way to showing (or after)
    Drive a few blocks each way in the neighborhood
    Types of properties / yards / junk / people standing around / etc.
    At showing
    Look at what you can see of the neighborhood from the property
    Is it homogenous?
    Same types and quality of properties
    Is it near things that will affect resale?
    Is it near things that will affect rent?
    Is it near things that will affect growth (appreciation) potential
    James can pull historical data, but that does not predict the future
    Are there future growth plans around the property that could affect resale or rent?
    Is this the nicest property in the neighborhood?

    Inside of House
    Walk the entire house (all rooms and basement; crawlspace if you really want)
    Is layout desirable? Bedrooms, bathrooms, etc.
    Examine expensive items and systems – will they need to be replaced / repaired? If so, when?
    Kitchen and Bathrooms
    Paint and Flooring
    Appliances (Oven/Range, Fridge, Dishwasher, Microwave, W/D?)
    HVAC (Furnace, A/C, Humidifier)
    Water Heater
    Doors and Windows
    Look under sinks and around tubs for signs of water damage
    What type of plumbing is present?
    Does the property look well cared for?
    Have there been a lot of “handyman special” fixes?
    Repairs “done” but don’t quite seem like they are high quality
    Write down a really rough estimate of costs (or notes so you can estimate later)

    Outside of House
    Walk around the outside of the property
    If it has a fence, walk both sides if possible or at least look over
    Examine expensive items and systems – will they need to be replaced / repaired? If so, when?
    Roof / Gutters
    Siding / Paint
    Landscaping / Sprinkler System / Fence
    Doors and Windows
    Write down a really rough estimate of costs (or notes so you can estimate later)
    If making an offer, base it on what you can see and know you’ll will need to update / fix
    You’ll still (almost always) have the property inspected if your offer is accepted
    Remember: 203K or conventional rehab financing
    We’ll do a class on “Fixer Upper Nomad”

    Four Methods of Looking at Properties

    No checklist
    Showing guide
    +/- Checklist process
    Full inspection checklist

    No Checklist

    Primarily using your blink only
    Quick and easy
    Harder to remember properties as you do many
    Especially if you “reconsider” a property later
    Miss important things
    Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande

    Showing Guide (from Buyers Tour)

    Part of the what James sends you
    Simple 5 star rating process
    Images of property
    Basic info about property
    Room to write comments

    +/- Checklist Process

    Write down a list good and bad things as you walk through
    Underline Name of Room
    Use “+” (plus sign) for positive things you could use to market the property if you buy it
    Use “-” (minus sign) for items that need improvement or repair if you buy the property

    This is what James does


    – Close to railroad tracks
    – Needs landscaping
    Living Room
    + Large master bedroom
    – Replace living room carpet
    + Fireplace

    Full Inspection Checklist

    Apps or paper version
    Not a replacement for having an inspection of the property in most cases
    It takes A LOT longer and is overkill for houses you’re really not considering
    James used to use this when going on Seller Presentations
    James no longer uses it and do the +/- checklist now

    Property Inspection Checklist – Interior

    Property Inspection Checklist – Exterior

    Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

    Examples of how compiling all the data and analyzing it can be wrong
    The importance of trusting your instincts and “gut” or feeling about whether something is right or not
    Sometimes it seems like a deal but your Blink tells you otherwise
    Make sure you LISTEN to this
    Or at least understand why

    Determine your “Blink” about a property

    Would you live there?
    Would you want your son or daughter to rent it?
    Nomad properties will become rentals, so:
    Will people like the property?
    What will people like about the property?
    What will people dislike about the property?

    Fair Market Rent

    Critical piece for Nomads
    Now that you’ve seen the inside, what will it rent for?
    See additional classes and tools we provide for determining Fair Market Rent

    How Long In Property

    For many properties, you will be there less than 5 minutes
    We schedule showings 15 minutes apart to give us time to look at the property and travel time between them
    If you like the house, you’re likely to stay longer

    Seller or Tenant Present During Showing

    Sometimes the Seller or Tenant will be present during the showing
    Beneficial to ask tenants/sellers questions to learn about:
    Current prop management and care of prop
    Current rent and when last increase was
    What’s currently not working well
    How they like the neighborhood
    Are they likely to stay a long time

    Writing An Offer?

    Older property? You probably want a sewer scope
    Cheaper if there is an outside sewer line access point
    Otherwise they will remove a toilet inside

    Make, model and serial numbers of appliances included with offer
    You want to get the ones you saw when you looked at the property

    Minimum Info Required to Write Offer

    Your full legal name(s)
    As you want it to appear on the deed to your property
    Full address of property (I usually have this)
    Offer price
    How much are you putting down?
    Type of loan? FHA? Conventional? Other?
    Seller concessions? How much?
    Closing date?
    Inspection contingency?
    Financing contingency?
    Appraisal contingency?
    How long does Seller have to accept offer?
    Pre-Approval Letter (or Proof of Funds) for your offer

Once you’ve Looked At Houses you may be ready to Write an Offer.


The following are improvements I plan to make to this page based on some of my Standard Process Improvement Questions.

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IMPORTANT NOTE: This checklist is based on what I personally use with clients in Northern Colorado. Please rely on your local real estate agent for how it works in your local real estate market. This process will definitely vary in different States.

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