The other day, I went to one of my listings to check on it. When I got there, I was saw that a buyer had left their notes behind. At first, I was impressed that the buyer actually took the time to think about all the things they wanted in a home, but I felt a little bad knowing that they didn't have them anymore. Fortunately, I can figure out which agent showed the house and send the notes to him/her.
Many buyers get so wrapped up in the process of "buying a house", that they forget that it has to fit their needs and lifestyle too. A lot of things about a home are not visible with the pictures you might see in MLS. Or, if the list agent doesn't do a good job representing the home with photos or marketing, it can be nearly impossible to gather this information until you get inside the home. There are somethings that you just can't photograph well at all, like the insulation or wiring for surround sounds/alarms/HDMI.
Every buyer has things that are important to them in a new home, but prioritizing them makes it very easy to sift out the ones that won't work from the ones that might be "diamonds in the rough". I completely encourage buyers to distinguish their needs from their wants and prioritize them. Then, when you go see a new home(s), jot down all of all the things you like (or dislike) in a home after you see them.
You can use pen and paper, just like this buyer did, or if you're visual, take pictures. Dictation into an app like Notes, AnyDo or EverNote (iOS) works too, if you're not a writer. Whatever you choose, just make sure you go back and actually revisit it. My personal favorite is pictures because my memory is like a sieve and my handwriting is even worse! Most buyers pick up only a fraction of what's in a home on the first visit and if you trust your memory (DON'T!!), you may dismiss a home that's a great option.
I'll admit, long ago when we moved to Phoenix, before I was a Realtor®, we bought our house in a weekend. We saw it exactly twice before we arrived 3 weeks later. I was 5 mos pregnant, so after driving 6.5 hours from the beach in CA, to arrive in a monsoon in 116-degree weather (August), I was MAD when I couldn't find the "3rd" bathroom in our new house. As it turns out, it really was a toilet in the corner of our laundry room. I'm pretty detail-oriented, but just short of staying for dinner, you don't really have that much time to take in every house, especially if you're on a tight time frame (who isn't?!).
If you've seen a lot of "plan homes" (i.e. in Desert Ridge, McDowell Mountain Ranch, McCormick Ranch, DC Ranch, etc.), there may be several of the same layout and it becomes even harder to distinguish one from another when you finally sit down to revisit all of your options. Unless the home was custom built, regardless of whether you're looking at a townhouse in Tempe (like my listing where I found this notebook) or a luxury villa in N. Scottsdale (like my newest listing), many of these homes may feel the same, but have different finishes, fixtures, locations and prices. In fact, the older a home is, the more likely it is to vary from a neighboring home and this is exactly where the value starts to become apparent if you're paying attention.
Newer dual-paned windows, roofs, heating/cooling systems, plumbing fixtures, paint, flooring, backyards, front yards and even the very lots they sit on can justify a property value easily. What's important to you?? Only you and your family can decide that, but make sure you do. It may mean the difference between finding the "right" house, that you can live in comfortably for years or having to move again when you realize that your house just isn't a "good fit" to be your HOME.
Happy home buying!!