If you're looking for a new home, you might be overwhelmed by the number of options and websites available. How do you find the best home for your needs and budget? How do you compare different properties and neighborhoods? How do you avoid missing out on your dream home?
In this blog post, we'll share some of the best home search tips that can help you find your ideal home faster and easier. Whether you're a first-time buyer or a seasoned homeowner, these tips will help you navigate the online home search process and make an informed decision.
Tip #1: Use multiple websites and apps
There are many websites and apps that offer home listings, but not all of them are created equal. Some have more listings than others, some have more accurate information than others, and some have more features than others. To get a comprehensive view of the market, it's a good idea to use multiple websites and apps to search for homes.
Some of the best home buying websites and apps are:
- Zillow: Zillow is one of the most popular and widely used home buying websites and apps. It has millions of listings, including for-sale-by-owner and foreclosed properties. It also provides virtual tours, push notifications, neighborhood information, and home value estimates (Zestimates).
- Realtor.com: Realtor.com is another reputable and reliable home buying website and app. It has listings from over 800 multiple listing services (MLSs), which means it has more up-to-date and accurate information than some other sites. It also offers 3D tours, detailed descriptions, mortgage calculators, and agent reviews.
- Trulia: Trulia is a home buying website and app that focuses on providing community insight. It has 34 map overlays that show information such as crime rates, school ratings, commute times, amenities, and local reviews. It also has a feature called "What Locals Say" that lets you read feedback from residents about their neighborhoods.
- Homesnap: Homesnap is a home buying app that makes it easy and convenient to search for homes on your phone. It has high-definition photos, instant messaging, property history, and agent profiles. You can also snap a photo of any home you see and get information about it instantly.
- Redfin: Redfin is a home buying website and app that offers multilevel support for buyers. It has a user-friendly interface, a mortgage calculator, a fee estimator, and a feature that shows how many people are viewing a property. It also has its own network of agents who can help you with every step of the buying process.
Tip #2: Narrow down your search criteria
Before you start browsing through hundreds of listings, it's important to have a clear idea of what you're looking for in a home. This will help you save time and energy by filtering out properties that don't match your needs and preferences.
Some of the main criteria to consider are:
- Location: Location is one of the most important factors in choosing a home. You should think about the distance to your work, school, family, friends, shopping, entertainment, and other places you frequent. You should also consider the quality of the neighborhood, the safety, the noise level, the traffic, and the public transportation options.
- Price: Price is another crucial factor in choosing a home. You should have a realistic budget that reflects your income, expenses, savings, debt, and future goals. You should also factor in the additional costs of owning a home, such as taxes, insurance, maintenance, utilities, and HOA fees.
- Size: Size is another factor to consider when choosing a home. You should think about how much space you need for yourself, your family, your pets, your belongings, and your hobbies. You should also think about how many bedrooms, bathrooms, living areas, storage spaces, and outdoor spaces you need or want.
- Style: Style is another factor that affects your satisfaction with a home. You should think about what kind of architecture, design, layout, features, and finishes you like or dislike. You should also think about how much work you're willing or able to do to renovate or customize a home.
Tip #3: Compare different properties and neighborhoods
Once you have narrowed down your search criteria, you can start comparing different properties and neighborhoods that meet your requirements. This will help you evaluate the pros and cons of each option and make a better decision.
Some of the ways to compare different properties and neighborhoods are:
- Visit in person: Visiting a property and a neighborhood in person is the best way to get a feel for the place. You can see the condition, the size, the layout, the features, and the surroundings of the home. You can also talk to the neighbors, the agent, or the owner and ask questions. You can also visit at different times of the day and week to see how the place changes.
- Use online tools: Using online tools can help you compare different properties and neighborhoods from the comfort of your home. You can use websites and apps like Zillow, Realtor.com, Trulia, Homesnap, and Redfin to see photos, videos, maps, reviews, ratings, statistics, and other information about the homes and areas you're interested in.
- Make a list: Making a list can help you organize your thoughts and preferences. You can make a list of the features and factors that are important to you in a home and a neighborhood. You can also make a list of the pros and cons of each property and area you're considering. This will help you weigh your options and rank them according to your priorities.
Tip #4: Stay on top of the market
The real estate market is dynamic and competitive. Properties can sell quickly, prices can change frequently, and new listings can pop up anytime. To avoid missing out on your dream home, you need to stay on top of the market and act fast when you find a good opportunity.
Some of the ways to stay on top of the market are:
- Set up alerts: Setting up alerts can help you get notified when new listings that match your criteria become available. You can use websites and apps like Zillow, Realtor.com, Trulia, Homesnap, and Redfin to set up alerts based on your location, price range, home type, features, and more. You can also choose how often you want to receive alerts, such as daily, weekly, or as soon as possible.
- Work with an agent: Working with an agent can help you get access to more listings, especially those that are not publicly advertised or are exclusive to certain networks. An agent can also help you with the buying process, such as scheduling tours, making offers, negotiating terms, handling paperwork, and closing the deal.
- Be flexible: Being flexible can help you increase your chances of finding a good deal. You might have to compromise on some of your criteria or preferences, such as location, size, style, or price. You might also have to act quickly and decisively when you find a property that meets most of your needs.
Finding a new home can be an exciting but challenging process. By following these tips, you can make your home search easier and more effective. You can use multiple websites and apps to search for homes, narrow down your search criteria, compare different properties and neighborhoods, and stay on top of the market.
Remember that buying a home is one of the biggest financial decisions you'll ever make. It's important to do your research, consult with professionals, and trust your instincts. With patience and persistence, you'll be able to find your dream home in no time.
By John Figard: Senior Blog Contributor NowICanOwn