Around 90% of buyers and renters today start their home search on the internet, which comes as no surprise given the convenience shopping for homes online provides.
If you use the internet to search for homes to buy or rent, here are some tips to help you get the best results.
- Choose the right listing site
Everyone has free access to large listing sites that feature properties for sale or for rent practically anywhere in the United States. All you need to do is to select the location you want to explore – from the state down to the neighborhood – and the site will display the listed homes in the area.
Listing sites also have filter functions, which allow you to narrow your search based on your own criteria, including the price range, size, number of bedrooms, and even the surrounding views.
The multiple listing site MLS is one of the most comprehensive, where the listings are updated every 15 minutes. The site features homes represented by member agents in local areas.
Other listing sites like Realtor.com may not update as frequently but they feature information that you might not find on the MLS.
- Get information on the properties you’re interested in from listing sites
Not all sites provide the same amount or kind of information, so you may have to comb several to get a complete picture.
In addition to basic information like the address, size, and description of a property, other details you can get from listing sites include:
- A property’s sale and listing history
- Data on homes near the property you’re interested in
- Nearby schools, parks, shopping centers and other amenities, and other useful information like crime rates and travel time to major destinations
- If you’re thinking of selling your home, look for sites that feature a calculator that can help you get an estimate of your home’s value
The listing sites can also send you alerts for newly listed properties that match your preferences.
- Use online searches to complement working with a real estate agent
While listing sites can provide you with loads of information, they can’t substitute for working with a real estate agent.
For example, the recommended agent on a listing site may not be the property’s actual listing agent and may not even be a local who can provide you with in-depth information about the area. Additionally, you may be interested in different listings with different recommended agents.
To streamline the process and avoid the inconvenience of talking to different agents, work with a trusted Realtor and let them know about the listings you found. The agent can connect with listing owners or agents to get the answers you need, schedule showings, and negotiate on your behalf.
Your agent may also have their own listings that you could miss on your online search or may have information on unlisted properties for sale. The agent would likely also have a website that features their own listings, plus other community information that you can’t find in national listing sites.