How to Use the Internet to Look for a New Home
Are you looking to relocate to a new neighborhood, city, state, or even country? Shopping online for new homes has many conveniences, but there are also misconceptions and misleading sites. Knowing what you want, can afford, and who can help you find it are three key pieces to improved online searching for new homes.
Why you should choose local realtors websites instead of national property websites?
One of the most important pieces of advice I have ever received about looking online for homes to buy is to search for specific realtors instead of going through larger clearinghouses of homes for sale. While the larger businesses function to provide the consumer with as many options as possible by collecting all of the data pertaining to homes for sale in particular neighborhoods, there are drawbacks.
- The information can be outdated
- There tend to be fewer pictures
- The home details are not always specified
- The home valuation tools are not as reliable as locally invested realtors can provide.
Sites such as Trulia and Zillow for the most part just collect information from other websites and add that information to their own site, only rarely actually directly gathering the home sale information. The inherent problems lies in the fact that these sites are not affiliated with the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) which keeps accurate records of homes on and off the market. Therefore, these clearinghouse sites don’t have a dedicated method of accurately and timely updating their information.
How to find realtors online
The most effective way to reach realtors who are located in your destination of choice, especially if you are not currently near or knowledgeable about the neighborhood, is to perform an online phonebook search of realtors serving that particular area. Community and city government agencies, such as community convention centers, often also have current listings of reputable realtors.
What to look for in your online search when choosing a realtor
If you are hoping for a specific realtor to work with during your home search, look for a few details in his or her credentials and experience.
- Commission fees
- Years as a realtor (There is a high turnover rate in realty, so look for someone who has been working in that capacity for at least 2-3 years.)
- Commitment to the business (For many people realty is a side job – you want a committed person who drinks, eats, and breathes local reality.)
- Track record (Look for how many homes this realtor has listed and sold and compare those numbers to others in the area.)
When I have been in the market for a new home I have gravitated toward working with 2 realtors, especially in the beginning. It gave me a more accurate and complete view of the market.
Other internet resources you can use
Realtors and MLS listings are some of the first places we look online when searching for a new home, but there are other resources that are valuable as well.
- Street Advisor, and other sites like it, gives real-world neighborhood descriptions from residents and those who know the areas best.
- The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offers many resources for individuals for financing, types of mortgages, and home buying checklists.
- School districts, even if you don’t have any children, can give you a sense of the neighborhood and community. You can usually find their information online, and you can check things like considerations for future tax increases, population demographics, and community support.
Buying a home is so much easier with all of the tools offered online. You can take a virtual tour and get a fair impression of a property before ever leaving your chair, and you can monitor the listings and trends from the comfort of your home, all while searching for that new home.