Buyers need to get truly organized as they search

Your own spreadsheet doesn’t have to be as complex as this one. (flickr photo by Ivan Walsh)

The search for a new home can be fun. But it also can be frustrating, exhausting and confusing.

To emphasize fun, the wise course is to get as organized as possible. That is the case even if you are the sort of person who values spontaneity, impulsiveness and instinctive decision-making above all.

One useful approach is to assemble a loose-leaf notebook or its electronic equivalent.

Begin by surveying your current home and listing in two columns the things that you like about it and the things you can’t wait to change.  Items can range from closet space to elevator speed and neighborhood amenities.

Then make another list, that one with three columns. What do you absolutely need in your new home — for example, a nook for a desk?  What would you like to have if possible? (A washer/dryer might fall into this category, views that are totally unobstructed or a whole room that could be used as office.)  And what do you wish for, perhaps a six-burner Garland in the kitchen?

Next, come to grips with your budget by having a conversation with a lender or two, maybe your accountant and your financial adviser if you have one.  This is where you have to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and figure out what is sensible and what is possible.

You’ll want to retain good, bad and indifferent listings ( is a  great tool for this exercise), making notes to remind yourself of aspects of each listings that intrigued, interested or repelled you.  When you actually visit a property, it is essential to go through the same motions.

Some folks find that a spreadsheet is the best way to retain information. 

On it, you can track asking price, price per square foot, monthly costs of condo or co-op, length of time on the market and myriad other details.

Taking your own photos of the properties you see also is smart.  When you see them in your notebook — digital or otherwise — they will remind you of both desirable and undesirable features that memories about a collection of properties have a way of clouding over.

Unless you already live in the same neighborhood, it’s a good idea to include shots of the area as well.  And don’t forget the façades, lobbies and hallways of apartment buildings in which you may be considering a purchase.

The potential obstacles of a successful search are many, and, in Realty Times, Phoebe Chongchua details five pitfalls to avoid in buying a new home.

In my experience, at least half of homebuyers trust their memory when it comes to the search. It works, of course, though only to a degree.

But the most organized buyers are the ones who are likely to make their pursuit as enjoyable as possible.  They also minimize the chance of making a big mistake.

Tomorrow: Weekly Roundup

To take your own bite out of the Big Apple, you have the option here to search all available properties privately.

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Malcolm Carter
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022

M: 347-886-0248
F: 347-438-3201
Web site

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