Drive-by House Hunting

A smart strategy in the era of COVID-19 and beyond

For prospective home buyers in Pennsylvania, the last few months have been a waiting game. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, all in-person house-hunting activities have been restricted; no in-person meetings with real estate agents, no open houses, and no property showings. But if you’re eager to get some traction on your home search, maybe it’s time to implement a drive-by house hunting strategy.

As a buyer, you’ve probably kept the search alive with lots of online house hunting during lockdown. You probably have a short-list of your favorites, for the day when you can finally see the properties in-person. Because for most of us, unless there is some extenuating circumstance or you’re a billionaire who collects homes for fun, seeing a house in real life is essential to the decision-making process.  

By now you’re probably more than ready to see actual houses! The real estate market has begun to open up again, but there are new guidelines, procedures, and documents in place to protect the health and safety of buyers, sellers, and everyone involved in the real estate business. This means buyers may want to be more discerning about which properties they visit. It may be smarter to limit your in-person house tours to ONLY the properties that look really promising to you.

One way to cull and refine your list of prospective properties and neighborhoods is get in the car and do some drive-by house hunting. 

Grab your short-list of favorite houses and desired areas, and check them out from the street. Explore the neighborhoods and try to imagine your life there. Where are the grocery stores? Cafes? Restaurants? Playgrounds? You may fall in love with one neighborhood and completely write off another. As you view different properties, make curbside notes of your “must-have” features, as well as your “nice-to-have” features. This is important house-hunting homework that will make you a more discerning buyer. 

As the real estate markets re-emerge, you are focused and ready! Armed with this insight, you and your real estate agent can be more selective and target the homes you really want to see. This way you’re reducing exposure risk, while maximizing the time you spend visiting properties in-person.

-Beth Gilbert-Crowell

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