The Art of the Drive-by

Starting your home search with a Drive-By

When you first are starting your home search, don’t estimate the power of doing drive-by’s of homes that might fit your criteria.   This is particularly useful for first time home buyers or if you are looking at communities you are not all that familiar with.  Choose a list of homes you might be interested in, get on MapQuest and map your route and drive-by all of the homes that seem to fit your criteria.

This is a great way to start your home search.  You can cover a lot of ground quickly by doing a drive-by of all the homes that interest you.  Many times when you are just starting out with the home search, there is a ton of inventory sitting on the market that you need to sift through.  Doing the drive-by will help you eliminate many of these homes quickly.  You can easily go through 15 to 20 homes in a few hours on a weekend afternoon.   To do individual showings might take several trips out spanning over several days or even weeks.

I bought my first house in the 1990’s before the prevalence of the internet in the real estate industry.  My agent would fax me lists of properties that might suit my needs and I would drive by everyone.  At the time I lived in North Andover and my search brought me to Haverhill.  I had been in Haverhill before but you truly don’t understand a community until you have spent some time in it.  I quickly got a sense of the type and age of home I should expect as well as a full understanding of the different parts of Haverhill.  After a short period of time, I was able to cross homes off the list because of it’s particular location, either located on streets that had too much traffic or areas I did not care for much.  The few evenings and afternoons spent doing drive-by’s helped shorten the process and hone my focus.

What will the Drive-bys do?

  1. Allow you to see different style of homes and help identify types of homes you think you might like.
  2. Get you familiar with the different neighborhoods or towns that might be available to you.
  3. Help you establish a mid point for you expectations as far as condition and location goes.
  4. Get a true feeling of what your money can buy you.

Drive-bys will quickly help set your expectations and where reality will lie for you in your home search.  Many homeowners start with expectations that are not realistic and can struggle to get a handle on where reality lies for them.  If you get 10-20 homes under your belt you will quickly start to understand the relationship price has on style, condition, size and location.

What to look for when doing your Drive-bys

  1. Take note of the exterior condition of the homes. How is the siding, the trim, the roof?  How well is the property manicured?  A home that is well kept on the exterior is most likely well kept on the interior.
  2. Pay attention to the house style.  Especially if you are in a lower price range for a community you may see a lot of capes or split levels.  Do you have a preference in style?
  3. Check out the street and neighborhood the house is situated in. Is the street busy or quiet, is it situated in a neighborhood, or cul-de-sac or is it on a major road?  Start to determine what is acceptable to you.  Two identical houses, one on a busy road versus sitting at the end of a cul-de-sac will have a huge price difference.
  4. Notice the location.  Is the location one you can live with as far as commute and your daily life?  You may find one part of town will work better for you then another.

Now that you have completed your drive-bys there might be a handful of homes you definitely want to go into as well as many that are a definite no.  What you have really accomplished is found a center for your expectations for your up coming home search.  If you have several towns on your list.  Do an afternoon in each town.  Each town will have a different feel to it and you may prefer one over another.


Kevin Vitali has been helping home buyers for 12 years in Essex and Middlesex Counties in Massachusetts. Kevin takes a very consultative approach to home buying to help you get the perfect home.  See what this home buyer had to say:

“He never rushed or pressured us and provided good opportunities to review, and was tireless working on our behalf. His feed back as we looked (for a number of months) helped us further refine and detail our needs, desires, and interest. Always frank, and honest, while being respectful. Keven lead us through the path to our new home..”

Chelmsford Home Buyer

Call Kevin for your free, no-obligation home buyer consultation at 978-360-0422

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