Previewing homes for buyers – here’s how I do it

May 14, 2012 — I am often asked what I do when I preview homes for buyers. How do I know whether a home comes close to what they would consider buying?

I start by conducting a thorough inventory of what they want and what their needs will likely be for the next 5-10 years.

I enjoy previewing homes, especially when I find a matches that make complete sense for my clients. CREDIT: The Andy Advantage

– Where would they like to live and why?

– What can they prudently afford?

– Are there any family additions in the offing?

– Do existing children need a big back yard?

– How important is close access to the Washington, DC-area’s Metrorail system?

You get the picture.

With that information in hand, on my own I preview qualifying homes and schedule visits with my clients I think are worth showing. As we walk through each one, I watch and listen closely to what they like and what they don’t, especially if there are any show-stoppers such as only a one-car garage. After that, the responsibility falls to me to ‘home in’ on properties that meet at least 80 percent of their needs.

With that I place them on a “drip” of homes that might meet most of their criteria that they receive via email as frequently as the homes materialize in the regional Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, or MRIS

In the early going, most of the homes that pop up may miss the mark. But as I sharpen the search criteria, this is a very efficient way to get a quick bead on properties as they are put up for sale.

On a parallel path, I research and visit neighborhoods to get a first-hand sense of the location. I might get in touch with agents who are active with listings in those neighborhoods to let them know of my clients’ interests.

Whenever a good prospect materializes, I preview it and quickly relay any relevant information that my client should know. I don’t recommend taking a client to see a home unless it meets that 80% threshold.

In the type of market we’re experiencing now in Northern Virginia and Montgomery County, Maryland, timing could be integral, perhaps critical, to submitting a contract that can win the next house of your dreams.

For a taste of how I preview a home, watch these previews of homes in May 2012.

Short home preview excerpt (1:53);

Long home preview excerpt (3:46).

In the shorter version, watch for what appears to be at first an excellent match  . . . until I peak through the sliding glass doors in the kitchen.

I welcome your comments!

In France and want to see a home in Northern Virginia? No problem. Let’s Skype!

I have another use for my iPad: provide tours of homes in Northern Virginia and Montgomery County, Maryland for clients overseas.

Skype is free to use via the Internet computer (or iPad) to computer. There is a charge for Skype phone calls. CREDIT:

Yep, I found a family two homes new on the market in Fairfax County that on paper appeared to meet virtually all of their needs. While they’re not exactly in a position to see it with their own eyes and feet, we decided a tour using my iPad2 via Skype was the next best thing.

The walk-around and walk-through were a bit clunky at times because of the intercontinental Internet connection. Still my client received a timely sense of the property without having to¬†interrupt their lives and spend a lot of money to jump across “The Pond.”

If you’re not familiar with Skype, simply sign up for an account at and find “AndyAdvantage” to connect with me at a pre-arranged time.

Now “Skyping” to assess a prospective home is no substitute for the real thing thing. But if you’re thousands of miles away, it might make sense to consider it, especially if a home is priced competitively and might not be on the market very long.