Real estate websites are useful when shopping for a new home and there are tricks to make your searches more efficient. Looking at online listings is often the first thing people do when they decide they want to buy a new home. Even if you aren’t pre-approved by a lender yet, you can get a better idea of the real estate market by browsing real estate sites. Here are 5 tips for your online home search.
Figure Out Your Budget for Your Online Home Search
Even if you have not yet been pre-approved, you have some idea of what you can afford to spend on a new house. However, you can’t get serious about buying a home until you’ve secured a mortgage with a lender. No seller will accept your offer if you can’t prove how you will finance the purchase.
Some ways to figure out your budget are to consider your income and current expenses and get an appraisal of your current home so you know its value. Once you have an idea of these numbers, set an upper and lower price limit for your online home search.
Specify Your Size Preferences
It’s common for people to buy a new home because they want a bigger or smaller house. You might be having more kids or your kids might be grown and moving out. Either way, determine what size house you are looking for and use the size filter online.
You can specify how many bedrooms and bathrooms you want, square footage, or both. Many people want to eliminate homes that only have one bathroom because if there is a plumbing problem, you are making bathroom renovations, or you have guests over, you won’t have a spare bathroom to use.
Including Special Features in Your Online Home Search
Not all homebuyers use this tool online, but if there are specific features that you want for your new home, include them in your search. Only select the features that would be a dealbreaker if the home didn’t have them.
If you absolutely must have a garage, check off the box. If you would like a swimming pool but it isn’t necessary, include homes in your search that don’t have a pool. You may be missing out on a perfect home to which you can add a pool later.
Location is Important
Location is often considered one of the most important factors in real estate. The neighborhood helps to determine the market value of a home. Use the location filter to draw a border around neighborhoods you are interested in or to enter zip codes.
Use Your Real Estate Agent
While real estate websites are valuable resources, so is your real estate agent. Your agent will alert you to properties before the listings appear online. Give your agent plenty of information about what you are looking for and you’ll have an advantage over other buyers when you hear about new listings first.