Today’s home searches do not begin by simply driving by a “for sale” sign and stopping in to view a home. In many cases, buyers begin searching for their next properties from the comforts of their current homes.
In fact, online home searches have become such a reality for today’s home buyers that listing photos have become an integral part of curb appeal. If you’re planning to start your new home search online, how can you be sure you’re finding a home that will match your needs?
Here are five tips to help you get your online home search started:
1. Know your needs and wants list.
One major difference between searching for homes online and scouring local neighborhoods for available homes is the sheer number of homes available. If you don’t have a clear idea of the features you want to find in a home, you might spend a lot of time sorting through available inventory online to find even a couple homes that meet your desired criteria. Spend some time before you begin your search and determine the home features that are most important to you. Focus your online efforts on finding homes that meet all or most of those criteria.
2. Use available tools to narrow your home search.
Once you have a good grasp of the home features you’re looking for, allow online search capabilities to assist you! Use search filters to eliminate homes that are not in your price range, or those that do not have the features you’re looking for. Want a single-family ranch with at least three bedrooms, a finished basement, and a little yard space? Use search filters to find homes that might meet all or most of those wants.
3. Be sure to do neighborhood research.
You can learn a lot about a home through an online search. Once you find a home or homes that might be right for you, be sure to take time to learn about their neighborhoods too. Check out what kinds of restaurants, entertainment options, and amenities are nearby. Learn about the schools, commutes and crime rates too. Even if a home seems to have everything you’re looking for, it’s location might not be right for you and your family. Research any neighborhoods you might not be familiar with when you’re searching online.
4. Don’t believe everything you see.
A picture is worth 1,000 words, right? When it comes to an online home search, buyers might need to make sure those 1,000 words are accurate. Professional listing photos can paint an incredible picture of a home. And kudos to all sellers who represent their homes with awesome listing photos. But, buyers beware, seeing really is believing when it comes to a home. Let online photos draw you into a home, but take the next step and schedule a showing before becoming too captivated. Make sure the real thing lives up to the online representation during your home search.
5. Hire a professional to guide your search.
An online search is a great place to start looking for a new home. Once you find a home or a few homes that you’re interested in, allow a professional real estate agent to schedule showings for you. Once you share the homes you’re interested in with your agent, he or she might be able to point you to other homes that meet your desired criteria too. Of course, your agent will also represent your needs when it comes to negotiating a price, working with inspectors and other service professionals, and helping you get all the way to closing.