Mortgage Advice

How to Comparison Shop to Find Your Perfect Home

October 8, 2015

When you’re looking for a new home, comparing properties can feel overwhelming – there’s just so much to think about. It’s also easy to forget the details of a house you walked through a week ago, so it’s important to have a good system for noting your thoughts on all of your potential houses. Follow these steps to create a scoring guide to take with you as you search for the perfect place to hang your hat.

Make Your Score Sheet

Start by creating columns for the property address and a nickname (something like “Green House” or “Cozy Bungalow” to help you remember the house later). Add another column for the asking price.

Next, make headers for the most important features of the property. These should include:

  • Location/Commuting Time
  • General Interior
  • General Exterior
  • Yard
  • Neighborhood Vibe
  • School District (if you have kids)

Under each feature heading, list the numbers one through five. You will circle one number on this grading scale to reflect your impression of each feature as you tour the house.

Next, add headings for each room you definitely require in your new home, such as:

  • Living Room
  • Kitchen
  • Dining Room
  • Master Bath
  • Master Bedroom
  • Bedrooms
  • Half Bath

Add the same five-point number scale to each of these headings as well.

Add Your Wish List

On a separate piece of paper, brainstorm a list of all the features you want in your dream home. Now isn’t the time to think about price, just get your ideas down on paper – no matter how pie-in-the-sky they seem. Walk-in closets? A pool house? An open floor plan? Dream big!

Next, prioritize your wish list by ordering the items from most important to least important. At this point, you can cross off anything you feel is too unrealistic. Add these headings to your score sheet, along with the five-point grading scale for each item.

How to Use Your Score Sheet

Bring a blank score sheet to each walk-through, and grade each item as you tour the home: Five is the best and one is the worst. Feel free to ask questions, but your gut reaction is all that’s required. If you miss an item on the tour, just fill it out as soon as you get in the car. Don’t drive away before completing the scoring.

When you are ready to compare homes, add up the total points across all categories that you awarded to each house. Divide the asking price by the total points to get your Dream Index Score. The house with the lowest Dream Index Score represents the best value for your money based on your personal preferences.

Have you used a similar system to keep track of homes on your list? Let us know in the comments!