Best Advice on Searching for Homes
Over 90% of Buyers use the Internet to search for homes. There are a number of websites that include search tools that are easy to use; however, the trick is to use the correct criteria at the right time to obtain your intended results.
The biggest mistake most Buyers make is to use too many search items. If your searches result in only a few or no homes, perhaps you are using too many search items. Search items should be used to exclude “Deal Killers”. Deal Killers are features that cannot be compromised, such as minimum number of Bedrooms or Paved Roads.
We recommend starting with only a few, major features and add additional criteria later. A starting search might include Location, Price Range and Number of Bedrooms or Baths. Let’s go through the steps of setting up a search:
Price Range: Price Range or at least a High Price should be included in all searches. Assuming you are obtaining a loan, you would set the high price to an amount that results in a monthly payment you are most comfortable with. This may not be the highest amount you are qualified for but the highest you want to pay for the home.
I also recommend setting a low price once you have run searches and determined that none of the homes that interest you are below that price. I recommend running some searches first, just in case there is a lower priced home that interests you.
Location: Location is the next feature I would include in all searches. Buyers often select a location depending on the school system or distance to work, but sometimes you just don’t know. In that case I would find the homes that interest you and take a drive to the area. You can often get a sense or “feeling” for an area and be able to determine your favored locations.
You can identify a location or area for a search in several ways:
Area: Tucson home search areas are divided into sections based on their location to the city center. The “Central” area, refers to homes near downtown and the University. Northwest searches will include Oro Valley and Marana, while Southeast searches will include North Vail and Southeast Tucson. The Area for homes located South of I-10 in Vail is called “Extended South”.
Subdivision: If you enter names of your preferred Subdivisions, you will only receive homes located in that neighborhood.
School District: This includes only homes within a specific school district. Note that the Vail School District actually includes some Tucson addresses, notably Rita Ranch, Desert Willow, Civano, etc. If you want to limit the search to only Vail addresses, use zip code 85641 in addition to the School District.
City: Searching by City is not very limiting; you will still receive a large number of homes. I usually don’t recommend using City as you may get unintended results, such as homes with a Tucson address but are far away from the city. Saddlebrooke, an Active Adults Community is located in Pinal County yet uses Tucson as their city in the mailing address.
Zip Code: Zip Code is a little better than a City Search, but you will still receive a large number of homes.
A combination of the above criteria may work best. For example, if you would like to search in Vail but only North of I-10, you could use “Vail” for the City and specify the “Southeast” area in the search.
Additional Key Features: What features in a home are most important to you? Setting up a search is a way to make sure only the homes that have those features will be shown. The search excludes homes you have no interest in.
Bedrooms and Baths: Most Buyers have a need for a minimum number of Bedrooms and Baths. If you use “4” for number of Bedrooms, you will receive all homes that have at least 4 Bedrooms.
Square Footage: I often do not recommend including square footage, at least in the initial search. Square Footage is often limited by Price or numbers of Bedrooms and including this in your criteria may exclude homes you might otherwise have an interest in.
Acres: Lots in most tract home subdivisions range from about 0.11 to 0.18 acres. If you need a larger lot, use this search item. One third or one half acre lots are “good sized” but if you need about one acre, use 0.85 in the search field. Why? There are several “One Acre” subdivisions in which the lot sizes are often slightly less than one acre. There is not a noticeable difference between a 0.85 and a 1 acre lot, and you would miss them if you used 1 acre for the entry.
Garage Bays: If a Garage is a must, enter the minimum number of Garage Bays. Two Car Garages are most common but if you need at least 3 Bays, use this search item.
Single Story: If you absolutely will not consider a Two Story home, use this item in your search.
Pool: Many Buyers insist on a Pool in Tucson and most of them do not want to incur the expense of building one. If a Pool is a must, use this search item. If you would consider building one, some Lenders are offering loans that include pool construction.
Other Search Criteria:
I always recommend starting with fewer search items and then add additional criteria once you see the initial results. Here are features that are commonly used in Searches:
Paved Road Horses Allowed Tile Roof
RV Parking Gas Heat New Construction
No Homeowner’s Association Split Bedrooms Gated Community
Adult Community On the Golf Course Fireplace
Our Website includes pre-built searches by Price Range for homes with four Bedrooms, three Car Garages and Pools. There are also search pages set up for Gated, Golf and Adult Communities, as well as one for homes on One Acre Lots. Or you can customize your own search, save it and use it each time you visit the website.
Driving Around Searches: Buyers that drive around are often in the early stages of looking and just getting ideas. This is a good start and they will usually turn to the Internet when ready; however, if you do not have access to a computer, then driving around is one way to look but is very inefficient. You may find a particular neighborhood that you like but may miss a home that would be perfect.
Sales prices and features are also not readily available when driving around. If you are not able to look for homes on the Internet, then we highly recommend contacting a REALTOR® who can search for you. Catherine and I are available, of course, and we work with all Buyers!