So that's what we did. Keith and I spent a rainy Saturday morning trolling the web for listings. Then we plugged the address into our GPS and hit the road to check out the properties. Since our realtor usually needs 24 hours to set up a showing (and we are impatient) this helps us see the area and scope out the yard. You'd be surprised how misleading some of the pictures posted online are! (But then again, if you've ever tried online dating, maybe you wouldn't be.) Stalking the properties we think we are interested in has actually helped us find areas we love and neighborhoods we don't care that much for. Plus, we usually stop for ice cream on these drives.
Here's why I advocate stalking properties:
Saturday we stalked a house in a neighborhood that we LOVED. According to Google maps it was situated pretty close to a major highway and Keith wanted to see if you could hear the traffic from the house. When we drove up to the house I confirmed that I did love the area and I was instantly charmed by the outside. Then Keith rolled down the windows and said, "Shhhh, listen." The optimist in me heard pretty birds chirping. Keith—the realist—heard nothing but the swoosh of speeding cars. He took a quick peek behind the house and confirmed more bad news—the highway was visible through the trees. Maybe it wouldn't have bothered us. Perhaps the noise is barely audible from inside the house, but Keith says having a major highway in your backyard is bad for resale value. It's hard for me to imagine selling a house that we haven't even bought yet, but I have to agree. If it makes us think twice, what will others think five or ten years from now?
A brick house was good enough for the Three Little Pigs, but not for us.
On Sunday we hit the road again. The sun was out so we packed a cooler and spent the morning at the beach. By 2 pm we were on our way to an open house in another one of our top favorite neighborhoods. The whole place smelled like cat pee and the layout was just too weird. And worst of all there was nothing on my checklist to be found in this house. No dining room, no fireplace, no beautiful front entry. An eat-in kitchen alone ain't gonna cut it. But we had two more listings that we wanted to stalk and they were near a Dairy Queen so I kept an open mind as we motored to the next town. Thankfully, we loved the locations of both houses! One was across from a beautiful park and the other was on a pretty side street in our favorite town. If their interiors are true to what we've seen online, I think we might find a winner.
Wish us luck!