First Look at a house

Are You Looking For All Of These Items When Driving By?

Scott CostelloAll, Blog, Featured 2 Comments

First Look at a houseMy partner and I market to a wide part of New Jersey, covering over 6 counties. Because of this we don’t really know the areas as well as we should. The ideal scenario is only marketing to areas that you know like the back of your hand and can pin point all the pockets of profit and disaster.

To make sure we avoid the bad areas, we have to drive by the houses and look around the neighborhood. This gives us the confidence to make an appropriate offer.

One of the questions I first had when doing the initial drive by of the house is what to look for. It is really all about the appearance and neighborhood. Here is a list of what I’m on the look out for…

Before I Go

  • Look at the property on Google Maps and Bing Maps to see an areal view of the house and neighborhood.
  • Make sure I have my camera so I can take pictures (phone will work as well)
  • Look for some comparable properties in the area so I can take a look at those too

House and Yard

  • Roof Damage
  • How over grown the landscaping is
  • Does the exterior of the house look in solid condition (don’t care about how dirty it is)
  • The last house I looked at a tree fell against it and put a hole in the side of the house.
  • Any visible cracks in the foundation
  • Mail in the mailbox, telling me how long the house may have been vacant.  If it’s packed, it’s been vacant for a while.
  • If the grass is high in the summer
  • If the driveway is not shoveled in the winter
  • Evidence of flooding damage, like a water line.
  • Broken Windows
  • Gutters coming off (roof damage or broken gutters could mean water damage or mold inside the house)
  • The lot size
  • broken down cars in the driveway


  • See if the house is similar to the other houses in the neighborhood.  I typically don’t want the largest house or the oddball house on the block.  Though price could change my mind.
  • Are there any other houses in the neighborhood that are for sale.  To many houses for sale could mean that the the area is not desirable
  • Is the area a war zone
  • Any other vacant houses in the area.
  • Any rivers or lakes in the area that could be the source of flooding
  • Is the house near a highway
  • Does the house right next to commercial buildings or something worse like a sewage plant
  • I drive past listed comps to make sure they are comparable.


The last house I took a look at I actually brought Ben with me…haha.  Gotta do what you have to do right?  Most of the time the only part of the day I have the time to look at the house is on my way home from work.  This is not bad in the summer because it’s still light outside, but now that October is around the corner I’m gonna have a hard time seeing the houses in the daylight.

It is important to go during the day so you can actually see the house.  It’s pretty pointless at night, and plus you look like a stalker or prowler.

The entire drive by of a house usually takes me about 20 minutes.  It’s no fun when the house is an hour a way though so try and maybe hit a few houses if you have a chance.  Maybe even randomly take a look at other leads houses in the area just in case they call.  You are already up there right?

Scott Costello
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