A new buyer just asked me: “Have you any guidance on what we should evaluate when we’re looking at homes?”

I LOVE that seldom-asked question!

My advice is to avoid looking “hard” at houses. Look “softly” instead.

Take a deep breath before entering any property and detach from the impulse to evaluate. Let the first impressions of the home wash over you.

Imagine you are visiting a friend’s house for the first time, rather than searching for your own home. Let a feeling arise rather than a detailed assessment.

The idea is to resist the tendency to start checking boxes on your must-have or nice-to-have list. I say that because the devil, truly, is in the details. A house might have everything on your list and still not “speak” to your heart. (Here’s a post on that subject.)

Because home is where the heart is, it’s vital to allow and encourage a purely emotional or intuitive response to a property you might call “home.” You may discover that some of your must-haves can be readily eliminated.

Over three decades of assisting buyers, I’ve seen clients eagerly give up on parking, yard, in-unit laundry, walkability and view – all because the “right” house grabbed them and wouldn’t let go. (Here’s a post about must-haves.)

Here are a few other suggestions:

  • Never ignore your intuition; the vibe you’re getting is real. 
  • Always go inside; don’t judge a house by its exterior.
  • Remember new paint and new floors can change everything.
  • Play “house” by pretend-using the kitchen triangle of stove, fridge and sink.
  • Sit down in a few rooms to experience the space as an occupant rather than a visitor; that non-standing perspective may alter your feeling about the place.

Finally, trust that the right home will present itself and try to enjoy the shopping phase. Aligning with a kind and patient agent (like me) will help!

Photo Credit: Irina Blok 

Cynthia Cummins is the founder of Kindred SF Homes and has been serving homeowners and homebuyers for 3 decades. For information on San Francisco Bay Area real estate visit KindredSFhomes.com. For my writing and mindfulness blog, visit WildHeartWriting.org.