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Noticing patterns helps sort a house search

Posted by Rona Fischman September 14, 2012 01:53 PM

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Herbert Simon was a pioneer in artificial intelligence. His famous comparison is that mind acts like a pair of scissors. One blade is the brain, the other is the specific environment. The mind, when functioning at its best, is interacting with the world. He and many followers of AI studied how the mind works, how it learns, and what is in the way of learning and effective functioning. So, what’s this got to do with real estate?

A computer model for artificial intelligence is a machine that will play the same game for thousands of hours memorizing outcomes in huge numbers. Eventually, the program has enough experience to be a champion. That’s how Deep Blue - a computer - beat Garry Kasparov - a chess Grand Master. The computer could analyze two hundred million chess moves a second, whereas the human brain of Kasparov was considering five per second. It was a close match, why? Because Kasparov knew which of the smaller number of moves was most relevant to the situation. Human brains are designed to understand patterns. Grand Master Kasparov knew chess patterns better than Deep Blue. So what’s this got to do with real estate?

House hunters see about 20 houses before buying one. (Some less, many do see more.) As an agent who has seen over 10,000, I’ve noticed the patterns. I share them with my clients, so that they learn them for themselves.

Size. Generally, house-hunters cannot name the size they need, in square feet. The best way to efficiently house-hunt is to define that figure by looking at patterns. My advice on this matter is to focus on identifying the minimum size for every room you need. How big do you need your biggest bedroom to be? How much storage and counter space do you need in your kitchen? How big does your living room need to be in order to accommodate the furniture you have or want? Once you have those parameters, you can test it with properties near the bottom of your estimated size range. If every property below, for example, 1500 SF, has a too-small third bedroom, then raise the minimum to 1550 SF. (There is also a point where a place is too big, but many hunters never see that in their price range.)

Style. Many house hunters think they want a certain style of house, but find that house does not really have the functionality they need. The patterns to notice are the patterns of your everyday life.

Where do you need bedrooms in relation to the social areas? Where do you need bathrooms in relation to the bedrooms? How many bedrooms do you need close together? How many bedrooms should be private/removed from the others? Are there stairs in places that will make it hard to transfer your things on a daily basis?
I frequently hear my clients say things like, “this stairway will be hard to get furniture up.” My response is generally something like this, “that happens once or twice. It will also be hard to keep clear of snow and to walk up, everyday with that stroller.”

Do you think that noticing patterns would have helped your house-hunting?

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About boston real estate now
Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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