Saturday, July 7, 2012

House Hunting in the Digital Age

Things have changed in eleven years, a lot! The last time my husband and I looked for a new home it was a personal experience with our Realtor. We made an appointment and sat in an office as she printed off listings that met our criteria. There were no photos of the properties, just basic facts regarding square footage and number of bedrooms and baths. You basically had two choices; drive by and stare at the house to decide if you wanted to see the inside, or rely upon your Realtor to tell you whether you really wanted to see the inside. Seeing every house in your price range was not a viable possibility, unless you intended to devote a full month to daily viewings.

Enter the internet. At some point it became much easier to take a peek at the houses on the market. At first most sites were run by the Realty companies, and invariably they wanted your contact information. Slowly a few bowed to public pressure and began allowing you to view their site without signing away your first born to them. Finally the big guns began popping up:, Yahoo, Trulia, and Zillow, to name just a few. It was no longer enough for Realtor's to snap a couple of photos with their $10 camera. The buyers wanted pictures, and lots of them! Now twenty photos are the norm. And the best Realtor's make sure a panoramic video tour is posted as well...complete with cool bendy walls.

Now, I am a planner. You give me information regarding anything that will be impacting my life, and I begin to plan for it. When we found out we might be moving to Oklahoma, I began to look at houses on the internet. When we found out that we would definitely be moving to Oklahoma, I became a woman with a mission! I have looked (via internet) at every home within a thirty mile radius of my husband’s new work place. And I have made some interesting observations along the way. I will share these little tidbits of wisdom with you at no charge.
 (Disclaimer; my parents were Okies, my husband’s parents were Okies. We have Okie blood gleefully coursing through our veins! These comments are tongue in cheek…no hate mail please.)

1.    Houses in Oklahoma are notoriously devoid of basements.
Now, I find this a little disconcerting. Oklahoma, like Kansas (the state I have spent my entire life in), has these swirly things called tornadoes on occasion. While some may simply relocate your patio furniture to the neighbor’s yard, others will relocate your house…to the next county. I personally feel better hiding in a nice safe basement vs. getting in my car and driving away…which I have been told is an acceptable practice in Oklahoma.

2.   Homeowners in the OKC appear to be anti-tree.
My husband and I enjoy trees. Nice mature trees. Trees that provide shade in the hot Great Plains heat of the day. They also provide wonderful protection against the baseball size hail that occasionally assaults us…though running for cover after an ice storm with limbs snapping all around you, can be adventure. In my perusal of Oklahoma City area real estate, I find two in every ten home owners have planted a tree.

3.   Architects like to put dining rooms next to the front door.
Apparently eating so that the neighbors can inspect your table manners is now the in thing to do. My daughter dislikes this and would strike all homes with this particular feature from my list. Unfortunately that would leave me two homes in the entire OKC area to consider. I look on the bright side…it will make me clear and clean my table in a timely manner.

4.   Avoid houses with only one photo.
Now this one is a no brainer folks. If a house has been on the market for more than one week, and yet only one photo is available…taken of the outside, from the neighbor’s front porch, or possibly from atop a nearby water tower…then this is a sign from the Almighty. Do not waste your time! Move on down the road!

5.   Some people have no common sense.
OK, I know this is probably not news to most of you, but looking at photos of houses can really bring that home. I understand it is difficult to keep a home in pristine condition for showings…but not cleaning up for the photos? When I see a counter and sink full of dirty dishes, I have to wonder what kind of filth I am not seeing…or smelling, for that matter. Yuck! I’ll pass on that house every time.

6.   After a while all the houses look the same.
And that is because they are! Amazing how a metro area will have the same floor plan repeated over and over and over again. When we buy, I can likely walk into any neighbor’s home and make a beeline straight to the master bathroom toilet.

7.   People in Oklahoma are highly religious.
I am basing this purely on the number of crosses I have seen hanging on wall of homes. We are not talking one or two crosses here…we are talking thirty…on one wall. This raises a question for me. Is the house possessed of evil spirits? Are there vampires in the basement? Oh yeah, I forgot, no basements.

8.   Oklahomans prefer brick homes
Now this is something to rejoice about! As my poor husband finished painting the siding of our current home in 100 degree weather (he procrastinates a little), I kept telling him this would be the last time he had to do that. I swear 95% or more of the homes I have seen have been brick. It is a thing of beauty!

I hope my little observations have been helpful…or at least brought a smile to your face. Thanks for joining me on my journey!


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