Pat Kennedy - Your Washington, DC Real Estate Connection


Looking for Houses: How to Keep Them All Straight

Looking for Houses:  How to Keep Them All Straight

If you are a typical buyer, you will probably not whip out your check book for the first place you look at.   You'll probably look at a bunch of places, maybe on your own at weekend Open Houses, and maybe with your buyer broker.  You might see 10, 20, or even 200 places before you find one you want to make an offer on. 

Just in case you are one of the people who wants to see a lot of houses, you might want to develop a system to keep track of what you have seen and your reaction to what you have seen.

Now, I have to look at a lot of houses so my buyers don't have to, and I have a mind like a steel trap when it comes to remembering houses.  But in case you don't, here are some of the ways to help organize your home search.

  • First, break it down into neighborhoods.  
  • Second, in each neighborhood, break it down by street.
  • Use print outs (either from your agent or something you print out from on-line, and take notes.
  • After a while, they all begin to look alike and run together, and it helps to find something unique about each one to put into your notes to help jog your memory - the dining room wallpaper or purple wall to wall carpeting.  Whatever.
  • Store them in a skinny little binder you carry with you.
  • If you're really cool, set up a file in your I-Pad notes and do the same thing.
This helps you avoid seeing the same place twice - although that's not always a bad idea.  I've had a couple of buyers go back with offers on homes they had previously ruled out but liked the second time they saw them.  

And while you are looking, it's important to give your agent feedback on what works and what does not with each place you see.  After all, it won't hurt her feelings if you think a place is really awful.  It isn't her house, after all.  

When you look at a house that you like, keep in mind that it might not be there if you revisit it a month - or even a few days - later.   The good ones tend to get snapped up in whatever market.  If they look good and are priced properly, they are likely to fly off the shelf.


If you are planning a move to or from the Washington, DC area, I can help.  Call, email or text me at:


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Comment balloon 22 commentsPatricia Kennedy • May 14 2011 03:50PM


Pat - great post! I also tell clients to make notes on the printouts I give them and if they need it, take a photo or two of the front and backyards. That often helps them remember a little more.

Posted by Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional, Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor (Charles Rutenberg Realty) over 9 years ago

and there is the naming technique too.  Pink House, Wallpaper House...Stinky house....okay forget the stinky house it won't stay on the list long.

Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) over 9 years ago

Pat, great advice. You are right - when you look at lots of houses it is hard to keep them straight.

Posted by Elizabeth Byrne, Arlington Virginia Real Estate (Keller Williams Realty) over 9 years ago

You are so right!  Some of my clients look at me as if I was a cazy woman when I give them several sheets of paper with a home picture, beds and baths and the rest of the page blank...write down what's most memorable, I could be the granny (your words) appearance or the great layout! 

Posted by Laura Giannotta, Your Realtor Down the Shore! (Keller Williams Realty - Atlantic Shore ) over 9 years ago

Good tips Pat.  And yes, so many times when I am ready to give my feedback, they have all meshed together in my mind.

Posted by Paula McDonald, Ph.D., Granbury, TX 936-203-0279 (Beam & Branch Realty) over 9 years ago

I suggest making a "short list" of favorites when I'm showing many houses.  At the end of the day the prospective buyer usually has just a few favorites and we take a second look at the homes on the short list.

Posted by Norma Toering Broker for Palos Verdes and Beach Cities, Palos Verdes Luxury Homes in L.A. (Charlemagne International Properties) over 9 years ago

Pat, making a list is essential and verbalizing to the agent is also important. Of course if your agent has a mind like a steel trap it never hurts, unless of course that agent gets caught in the rain and gets waterlogged. I try to limit the number of showings on any given day with a client to no more than 6, as they all run in to each other after that.

Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 ) over 9 years ago

Pat, some kind of scoring or rating system and organization to track searched properties you like noting the good points is very helpful. I agree with Ed, usually about 6 a session is good. You get to eight and they all blur together.

Posted by Gary Woltal, Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth (Keller Williams Realty) over 9 years ago

Great advice Pat.  yes, the first few are easy to keep straight but after that, forget it.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) over 9 years ago


These are great suggestions. It can get really hard to rememer homes you have seen. Photos can help, as well as givien each house a name - the ugly house, the smelly house, the dog house, the gem, you get the idea. I have heard buyers come up with all sorts of names, some of them pretty funny.


Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude (eXp Realty of California, Inc.) over 9 years ago

Pat, Great post on keeping track of the home tour. I also suggest taking notes of specific features they appreciated and rating the homes on a number system, 10 being the best.

Posted by Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can!, So Utah Residential, Referral & Relocation REALTOR (Red Rock Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Pat...what also helps is not seeing to many homes in one day. I try to limit it to 10 maybe 12 (and keep in mind I do primarily condominiums) so that by the end of the day, I can ask my Buyer, "Ok there is nothing else to see. What you saw today is it. Rank them 1, 2 and 3 as if you were going to have to make a decision today." Really helps get a handle on what they really like and why.

Great post!

Posted by Thom Abbott, Midtown Atlanta GA Condos For Sale ( |770.713.1505 | Intown Atlanta GA Condo Living) over 9 years ago

Yikes...I hope not 200!  I usually can find it between 11 and 13...but have seen them get confused after 8!  Many are bringing camera's now...great, just one more thing I have to notice...I don't want to be in any pictures!!

Posted by Cindy Marchant, "Cindy in Indy" , Realtor, Fishers Real Estate (Keller Williams Indy NE 317-290-7775 over 9 years ago

Pat ~ I give my buyers print outs of each home we are going to view and I tell them to take notes.  When they rule out a house, they should put a big X through it.  This helps so we don't have to view 200 houses!!

Posted by Dawn A Fabiszak, The Dawn of a New Real Estate Experience! (Private Label Realty ( Denver metro area, Colorado) over 9 years ago


We sort out the houses after we have been out to what they liked and didn't like - features and whole homes, as well as neighborhoods.

Also, thank goodness I was blessed with a good memory:-) 

All the best, Michelle

Posted by Michelle Francis, Realtor, Buckhead Atlanta Homes for Sale & Lease (Tim Francis Realty LLC) over 9 years ago


Great advice, looking at homes can become very confusing to buyers, helping the buyers figure out to sort out what they're seeing really helps them from becoming confused.

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

Posted by Lou Ludwig, Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC (Ludwig & Associates) over 9 years ago

Pat -- I agree with Cindy about naming houses --- stinky house, cat house, whole lotta wallpaper as well as a ranking system at the end of a group(or days end) tour of homes.

Posted by Michael Jacobs, Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393 over 9 years ago

Great post Pat.  It's so easy for the house hunter to be overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of homes available.  Having a system not only to keep notes on what they've seen is great, but also a set of criteria to eliminate the ones that won't work and another for the possibilities also can help.

Posted by Gabe Sanders, Stuart Florida Real Estate (Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales) over 9 years ago

I would add never view more than 5 homes at a time- and immediately discard the flyers of theones which are not a match.

Posted by Allison Stewart, St. Cloud Fl Realtor, Osceola County Real Estate 407-616-9904 (St.Cloud Homes ) over 9 years ago

That's great advice Pat, and a good system!  I have never been on that end of things, having to remember so many views.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

That's why I like to have buyers with me because we rehash each house in the car.  We pitch the ones that are being considered and then name the ones that are.  

Posted by Dr. Stacey-Ann Baugh, A doctor who makes house calls. (Century 21 New Millennium) over 9 years ago


And remember once you rule one not unless you decide you are buying it, go back to it. ;-)

Ann Hayden in Wildwood, MO

Posted by Ann Hayden 636-399-7544, (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties-St. Louis Missouri) over 9 years ago