Zeroing in on the perfect home.
Most of you reading this blog who are actively thinking of buying a home, will probably search online through hundreds of homes before ever contacting an agent. The internet has completely revised the way we search for homes – even I went online before contacting an agent when I moved to San Antonio. Scrolling through the listings helps create a sense of excitement for homebuyers; they see homes they instantly love, they learn about neighborhoods they want to live in, and start to get a sense for just what it is they want most in a new home.
All the information available can be daunting though. Online home search sites are chock full of data, both in terms of actual listings and information (take this blog for instance). Making sense of all the data is not always easy and there’s a few things you can do to make it flow smoothly.
Five tips to target your online home search.
Begin with a wide set of criteria. – At this point, you should have already
Use different sites. – Although we’d love to sit here and say “use only our site for your online home search,” (and we’d love it if you did), we know you’ll be out there searching a ton of sites. Sometimes, you may find that seeing a house on one site, you might love it, but seeing it on another site, you might not like it as much. Just remember that the data from one site to the next might not be the same. The best data will come direct from the MLS, so although you may see something on a site, check with your agent to be sure it is accurate and the home is still available.
Take notes. Lots of notes. – When searching online for a home, you’ll begin to see many similarities in properties. As you see more and more homes, they have a tendency to blend together. This is true of going to see the homes in person as well. Many builders use similar floor plans, materials, and design features – so it’s easy to get one house confused with the next. The better your notes, the easier it will be for you to say, “What about that one house…?”
Rank homes by preference. – Build a ranking system for yourself. Use stars, letters, numbers – any system you are comfortable with. Once you’ve ranked some homes, as you add more, go back and re-rank all the homes. You’ll find you can eliminate some that you once thought were perfect. As your online home search builds it’s easy to wind up with 100 must-see homes. Eliminating them as you go (we recommend keeping notes on the eliminated ones though – you never know when you might change your mind) helps alleviate some of the hopelessness of feeling like you just don’t know which ones to go see in person.
Use your REALTOR®. – We see it a lot: buyers who say “my agent is too busy, so we’re calling to get some info ourselves.” Many times, buyers will call the listing agent with questions (or ask questions in an online forum). Your REALTOR® gets paid to do this, why put so much of the burden on yourself? By all means, continue your online home search, but let your agent in on the process. Let them make the follow up calls to find out if the home has had foundation repairs. Let them call the listing agent to ask if the sellers plan on leaving the swingset in the backyard. Your agent should be sending listings to you, but if you see something you like that may not have come up in their search (often because it is out of the set criteria that your agent and you have discussed), give them the address or MLS# and see what they can find out for you. Same thing goes for a house you drove by the night before.
Time to start seeing homes in person.
There comes a point when searching for a home online stops being viable and it’s time to suit up and hit the road to visit these homes in person. Photos, virtual tours, and descriptions only tell part of the story. Seeing a home in person can completely change your mind about it (which is why we recommend hanging onto the eliminated properties). This is truly where the fun begins…are you ready? Let’s go find you your new home.
image courtesy of twoody291