Shopping for a Home

New homes, old homes, big homes, small homes – they’re all waiting for you to come take a look. It’s tempting to think of shopping for a home as a huge, time-consuming and potentially terrifying process – mostly because it is. Will you find the perfect house? Will you be able to afford it? Will you lose out on your dream house at the last minute to a higher bidder?

But it’s also the ultimate shopping trip, with you browsing through all kinds of houses in all kinds of neighborhoods – one of which you will eventually call home. How cool is that?

Consider your real estate agent to be your adventure guide – or personal shopper, depending on how you see the home-shopping process.

“I try to make sure to put clients at ease, particularly first-time buyers,” says John Shipps, an agent in’s Seattle-area brokerage. “I let them know I’m excited to be part of this with them.”

Some buyers really enjoy getting out and exploring different neighborhoods throughout their city when they’re shopping for a home, taking each for a little test-drive to see how it feels, he says. Some get a kick out of comparing new homes with remodeled homes and fixer-uppers, he says.

Others might just focus on new homes in various developments, trying to decide where they can get the most for their money. Historic homes in different neighborhoods are appealing to other home shoppers.

But the real fun begins when buyers find “the one,” Shipps says. “They’ve seen enough homes to know what they don’t want, and … it just clicks.”

The next thing they know, they’re starting to talk about putting the TV here and their couch there and their book collection in that spot, he says. They notice the kitchen has a gas range and, even better, a window so the cook can see outside while preparing dinner.

Basically, they begin to visualize themselves living there, Shipps says. It’s a magical moment.

Shipps says some buyers even find the home inspection fun. They gleefully follow the inspector as he makes his rounds through the house, he says, soaking up everything they can learn about their soon-to-be home and ways to take care of it and its mechanical systems.

“I think it’s about taking ownership of the home,” he says.

And then comes that big final step – closing. After all the fun of shopping for a home, finding one, making offers and counteroffers and reaching a deal, you get to sit down and agree to pay a great deal of money to actually live in the home of your dreams.

“They’re probably dreading the start of that process,” Shipps says. “They go into escrow and see that stack, an inch thick, of papers they have to sign.”

Ugh – to say the least.

“But once it’s done and they see the keys, the bells are ringing, the birds are singing and the skies are sunny,” he says. “It’s a feeling of victory.”