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Laura Vogel

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From the very start of their relationship, Brenna Thomas and her husband, Bill Lundquist, knew their life together would definitely include a few must-haves: dogs, international travel, and—as soon as they could afford one—a home of their own.

“We both love domestic pursuits like cooking, gardening, and tons of flea-market-inspired DIY projects,” Thomas says, with a laugh.

It turns out that this pair had already figured out a lot of pieces of their dream home—they had a budget, were pre-approved for their mortgage, and had even narrowed their ideal zip codes down to three or four. But they had no clue how much time their house search would take.

The Homebuying Institute reports that home search is the longest stage of the home buying process, estimating people spend between three to six weeks touring homes before they make an offer. It’s likely that most of this time comes down to the limited windows in which you can actually get into a home for a tour. Some homes are occupied, so the tour windows are wholly dependent on the schedules of the sellers. Beyond that, real estate agents try to schedule tours when they can be there, too, adding yet another layer of scheduling difficulty. And if you work on the weekends, like Lundquist, you’re likely to miss out on many open houses.

Imagine, instead, a world where every day is an open house. A digital key that gives you instant tour access to an entire city of homes. An all-in-one, home shopping stop where you can find exclusive listings and walk right in to the homes you want to tour — with or without your agent. Bungalo’s mobile app not only lets you self-tour homes, but it can help trim hours, days, and months off your home search. Thomas and Lundquist say that option would’ve been a game changer for them. And they’re likely not alone.

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1. Enjoy Your Own Private Open Houses—Even During Off Hours

When touring homes, Lundquist knew peace and quiet during the morning and early afternoon were essential for him because of his off-hours work schedule. Touring on their own time would’ve allowed the couple to gauge the noise level at any potential house or neighborhood at a certain time.

And even if this specific scenario doesn’t apply to you, there are plenty of perks to this modern way of home touring. First off, touring on your schedule means you can view houses when it’s easiest for you —and not the middle of the work day. Second, you’re free to pop in on a whim while running errands or just passing through a neighborhood you love. And finally, checking out a home at different times of day will help you get a feel for things that might have a huge impact on your decision, like commute or neighborhood traffic patterns.

2. Take Total Control of Your Home Tours

While traditional open houses are certainly efficient for a seller, they don’t really give you, the buyer, a true view of the home. If an open house is packed (and most are since they are usually held in two hour windows), it might be hard to really inspect that hardwood floor you were swooning over in pictures. Using the Bungalo app to let yourself in, you can get a feel of each room and check boxes on your list of must-haves without rubbing shoulders with other buyers along every hallway. Plus, you won’t have to worry about pressure from the seller’s agent throughout the tour. It’s just you, detailed information about the home, and all the time you need. Ahhh.

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3. Make Your Already Busy Life a Little Less Busy

House hunting is meant to be fun. After all, you’re imagining your life in a new space that will one day be all yours. But as most aspiring home buyers soon find, actually getting into the house to tour can be a headache—especially if you, like all of us, have a life outside of your home search.

“Brenna and I each have enormous workloads,” adds Lundquist. “But our hours tend not to be in sync. This is one reason that the ability for us to tour homes autonomously, and whenever we could grab an hour or two would’ve been key.”

“We both moved to Texas to go to see bands, eat super-spicy Tex-Mex food, and hang out with friends,” says Lundquist. “Not to look at houses!”

Touring on your time takes so many headaches out of the home buying process. And, it gets you into your dream home faster, and back to living your life.

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Find certified homes on Bungalo and download the Bungalo app to start touring on your schedule. 

 

When my husband and I bought our home—love at first sight—it felt like the end of a hard-won battle, a sensation familiar to many house-hunters. We’d toured over 100 properties over an enormous geographic area, politely traipsing through every room even at places we knew weren’t for us, making awkward conversations with homeowners and realtors all the while.

Needless to say, we learned a lot.

Naturally, if you’re house-hunting, you want to spend the least amount of time touring inappropriate homes and the maximum hours enjoying your new dream house. Here are some key tips on what to pay close attention to—and what you can quite literally ignore—on a house tour.

Where to Start

First off, know that there are all kinds of ways to tour homes, from the old school (often-awkward open houses with other potential buyers) to the new (touring yourself, even without a realtor, thanks to smartphone self-entry). If you’re proactively scouring the market, you’ll likely experience a little bit of everything.

Remember: You can tour any Bungalo home on your schedule, any time 8am-8pm, 7 days a week. Unlock home access.

No matter the format, however, the biggest challenge with house-hunting is keeping yourself focused on what ultimately matters most…to you. Know that any home on which you place an offer will have a professional building inspection—most mortgages are contingent upon it—so the touring stage of the house-hunting process has more to do with your personal checklist than behind-the-scenes elements such as working plumbing, roofing, and septic systems.

In other words, hone your definition of what makes a dream home with each tour, but conserve your precious energy. Don’t feel like you need to become a general contractor before you walk through that first front door.

What to Skip

Remember that your time is precious, and you’re on a mission. It may seem rude to not chat up the homeowner or partake of the crudité spread laid out by the realtor, but it’s really okay—you are all here to make a deal. Don’t feel awkward about getting down to business and briskly checking out every detail of the home.

In an ideal world, every for-sale home would be pre-inspected for your total peace of mind. But if you’re casting a wide net, you’ll come across all manner of design and renovation decisions. All pros agree that, yes, hideous decor can be off-putting, but it shouldn’t sour you on an otherwise solid home. Ugly paint jobs are easily and cheaply fixed, and the current owner’s living room set will be long gone before you move in. Focus instead on the underlying structure and layout of a home to see what glory may lie beneath.

Your home will likely be the biggest financial investment you’ll ever make, so don’t let anyone pressure you into a sale—not your family, your realtor, or your bestie who desperately wants you as a neighbor. If possible, ask the seller to let you visit the house on your own, without the distraction of other buyers or dealmakers; sit with the space and take it all in, quietly.

While you’re there, experts suggest that you do check that everyday fixtures and interior work are in proper working order: Open every tap, flick on every light switch, flush every toilet and take notes on anything that’s not up to snuff. (Little fixes can oftentimes add up to huge bucks, so be willing to move on if an initially dreamy property shows signs of being a money pit).

Finally, even though your ideal market might be tight, decide before you even begin your house hunt what things are negotiable and what are deal-breakers. It’s good to be flexible, say, about adding an extra five minutes to your commute for the perfect place, but if you have kids (or are planning for them), being within a great school district is non-negotiable.

Insider Tips

Most experts agree that the siting of a house and exposure to natural light is one of the most crucial factors in choosing a home. Abundant sunlight has been proven to boost our mood (not to mention making every interior much more Instagramable), and a home not hemmed in by hills or thick vegetation will “breathe” much more efficiently. Pay close attention to the landscape and trees surrounding every home you tour, and make sure there’s ample natural light in all of the rooms. For a house you truly love, it’s worth visiting at different times of the day to check out the exposure from sunup to sundown.

The powerful adage “how you do anything is how you do everything” also applies to homes. When you’re on a tour, take the time to look at the little things. Do the doors hang evenly in their frames? Is the tiling in the bathroom meticulously spaced and flush with the wall? Are the doorknobs and other fixtures fastened well and in good working order? Are any of the light bulbs burned out? If you see a bunch of small problems and things that seem “off,” it’s often a sign that the previous owners deferred maintenance.

And lastly, use your nose. Experienced real estate agents say that any potent masking scent—from candles, plug-in wax burners, even fresh-baked cookies—at a home tour is almost always a sure sign that the seller has something unsavory to hide. Don’t be shy: Poke around closets and under-sink cabinets and sniff for any indication of mold or decay.

The bottom line: the more houses you tour, the quicker you’ll learn to assess what makes for a great structure, and which ones you can skip walking into altogether. Don’t let yourself get rushed through a tour, stay true to your checklist, and feel free to revisit potential winners multiple times. With any luck, it’ll take you far fewer tours than our 100+ to find your very own home sweet home.

The outdated ways of home buying just got a much needed renovation.

Find and tour certified homes, get connected to fast and stress-free financing, and make an online offer, all through Bungalo. Browse homes. Browse homes.