Viewing Homes – Best Practices

Written by Ken Tritle, Realtor®, Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES®), DreamWell Homes Realty in San Diego County, Lic# 01892793 Call/text 760-798-9024, email Sign up for our Newsletter Email Guide to Relocating or Retiring to San Diego here.

When shopping for homes, even the Internet has limitations… especially in evaluating the neighborhood. Be sure to get out there and drive by all candidate homes and their neighborhoods in person, ideally before scheduling any showings with your agent. 

Some homes look fantastic on the Internet, but end up disappointing when viewed in person. It is the rare home listing that will include photos of the high voltage power lines hanging over the roof of the house, the trashy neighbor’s home with the barking dogs, or the fire station located directly across the street.

Homes, indeed, entire communities might get scratched off of your candidate list, saving you tons of time, just by doing a single drive by. 

The Drive-By

Drive around the neighborhood and take some notes. This does 3 things:

  1. Gives an idea of whether you like the property, the home’s orientation and surrounding neighborhood.
  2. Exposes you to new areas and other potential candidate homes you haven’t considered yet. You’ll likely eliminate some that don’t appeal to you, but you might also see a few surprises that fit your goals.
  3. Saves you from wasting time on homes that seem desirable, but where the neighborhoods fall short.

** TIP! – When you do find a good candidate home, check it out on google maps first, then drive by it several times – better yet, walk by it – at different times of the day to gauge the level of activities during, and after normal works hours and on weekends. 


Part of remaining healthy, both physically and mentally, is regular exercise. Plus, you’re in San Diego – a walker’s paradise!

Are there worthwhile places within walking distance? Are sidewalks in good condition…wide enough for wheelchairs, strollers, bicycles or tricycles? Are there busy streets with crosswalks… clearly marked?

If you have grandkids, consider parks and playgrounds. Also, notice coffee shops, grocery stores, libraries, bars, fitness venues, movie theaters, bus stops, or banks/ATMs.

Find the Walkscore – a numerical score used to measure a home’s proximity to shops, restaurants, transit, schools, etc. The higher the score, the better an area is considered in terms of walkability.

Homes for Sale

How many homes are for sale? Too many can be a sign of a neighborhood or HOA experiencing hard times. You may find good deals, but there may also be crime, neglect or unfriendly neighbors. Large numbers of “short-sale” homes can be a signal of a distressed area.

Homes for Rent

Many homes for rent can be a signal of would-be sellers who’ve given up selling their homes and are just looking to cover the mortgage. It might also be an area with a high student population. Either way, more rentals means more turnover and you’ll see more people come and go over the years.

Commute Times

Is it easy to access highways during high-traffic hours? How about mass-transit… or major construction projects that could cause delays? Are there bike lanes?


What is the feel of neighborhood like? Are the homes well maintained with nice landscaping and lawns? Are the public areas clean? Are there nice views… local parks? Do the neighbors seem friendly?

Dining & Nightlife

How far to the nearest restaurants, bars and cafes? Does the neighborhood go dark by 9pm, or does it get lively later at night? Nearby bars and restaurants can be convenient, but can also be a source of late-night noise especially with outdoor seating prevalent these days.


How close are schools? Are they well-kept? Are there graffiti, barbed-wire fences, or broken windows?

Quality of Life Factors

Is the neighborhood on the up and up, or on the decline? Are new stores, restaurants and business opening, or closing down? A drive through of the neighborhood should give you a good idea of the economic status.

All the Above Are Totally Personal to You

You’ll need to experience this in person to know for sure whether you like it or not. As you experience different neighborhoods during your drive-bys, give your agent some feedback so they can effective begin to narrow search focus. 

Written by Ken Tritle, Realtor®, Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES®), DreamWell Homes Realty in San Diego County, Lic# 01892793 Call/text 760-798-9024, email Sign up for our Newsletter Email Guide to Relocating or Retiring to San Diego here.

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About dreamwellhomes 258 Articles
DreamWell Homes Realty is a locally owned San Diego husband and wife real estate team. They specialize in San Diego 55+ communities, single story houses and condos, retirement-style beach properties such as ocean view homes and waterfront real estate. For more information, please call or text Jean and Ken Tritle at 760-798-9024. Thank you. DreamWell Homes Realty CA DRE# 01777754, Mailing address: 1902 Wright Place, 2nd Floor, Carlsbad CA 92008