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The Do's and Don'ts of Searching For Homes Online

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The Do's and Don'ts of Searching For Homes Online


Many home buyers rely on the internet to begin their search. Homes are rarely not listed on an online site when they are for sale.

Are you in the market for a new home and wondering how to go about starting your search? Let us check out the tips and tricks of searching for homes in a virtual world. 

Do Set Your Budget

A budget can be the biggest guideline when searching for a new home. Knowing how much you are willing to spend will let you know where you can begin your online home search.

Often websites will ask you what price range you are shopping in when you log on. You will want to know what you can spend before you find a dream home that is out of your budget.

Do Be Prepared

Being prepared to buy a home takes a lot of work. If you have a home that you need to sell before buying a new one, you will have to get it ready to go on the market. 

Set a goal date that you would like to be in your new home by. Just remember that this is not a deadline, and do not get frustrated if you can not meet that date.

Do List Your Needs When Searching For Homes

Do you know what your needs (and wants) are? How many bedrooms do you need, this includes planning for any future additions to your family. Do you want a backyard, a basement, a garage, etc?

These are all things that you should be putting down on paper so that you know what to look for when you are conducting an online search.

Do Choose a General Area 

Now for the big question! What neighborhood do you want to live in?

Are you switching states or staying in the one where you currently live? Do you want to be close to work or your children's school?

Do Compare Real Estate Listing Sites

If a house is listed on multiple sites, note the price difference, if any. It is not uncommon to find a home that fluctuates in price from site to site.

A real estate agent will help you to get the best price out of all of them. 

Do Check Out Foreclosure Sites

Do not sleep on foreclosed homes! What that means is sometimes foreclosed homes can be exactly what you are looking for at a price that is far beneath your original budget goals.

A foreclosed home may be in great condition, just that the previous owner could not afford their mortgage payments. Be cautious though, because sometimes foreclosed homes can be in poor condition because the previous owner also could not afford to keep them up properly.

Do Extra Research

The internet is a great place to browse through homes from the comfort of your current home. Do you know what else the internet is helpful for at this time?

You can use the web to search for important key things such as checking the status of the educational system in the area you intend to move to as well as crime rates and the local economy.

If you or your family have any specific needs, such as doctors, you can search for those as well. If you will be looking for a new job in the area, the internet is of course a great place to start that search, too. What about checking mortgage rates and applying for home loans?

Make the most of your time at the computer! The internet is the world at your fingertips.

Do Go For Walkthroughs

3D tour is a good place to start getting a feel for these homes that you find online; however, nothing can compare to getting an in-person walkthrough. The 3D tour is a great place to start when you want to narrow your options down to a handful of houses to visit in person. This eliminates you having to travel around the city looking at house after house. 

This will give you a real feel for the property, the layout of the home, and even the neighborhood. This is a good time to have your realtor accompany you so that they can point out things that you may not have thought about.

Do Estimate Taxes

The cost of the house is not the only cost you will have to factor in when calculating your home payments. Depending on the value of the home, and the neighborhood that it is in, property taxes can fluctuate greatly and come as a big surprise. 

Do Use a Mortgage Calculator

Seeing one large total cost of a home on your computer screen makes it almost impossible to understand how that cost breaks down into monthly mortgage payments. Using a mortgage calculator may not give you an exact amount down to the penny, but it will help you to better understand how that large number breaks down into monthly payments. 

Do Read Over All of the Details

Make sure that you take your time when reading listings as there can be details that are easily overlooked that could make or break a buyer's decision. If it is a property that you are very interested in, double-check everything to make sure that it is in alignment with what you need. 

Do Look For How Long the House Has Been Listed 

The length of time that a home has been on the market will not tell you everything that you need to know, yet it may give you some insight as to issues that the home has. Often when a house sits on the market for an extended period of time either it is grossly overpriced or there is something wrong with it (or the neighborhood.) 

Do Understand That Pictures Can Be Misleading

We all know that pictures can be taken at a certain angle, in certain lighting, or have certain filters put on them to make things appear better than they are in real life. This is why you should always make a point to see the house in person before buying it. 

Do Know Your Measurements

It is time to get out the tape measure and map out the dimensions of the rooms that are in your current home to compare them to the measurements of the homes that you are looking at online. Without physically seeing how large (or small) a space is it can be hard to picture it.

Remember once you get your furniture and belongings into a room it will be that much smaller.

Experts recommend going with a larger space rather than choosing a smaller home. Not that you should have more than you need and waste space. But, going through the entire process of selling and buying a home, packing, and moving only to realize that the home is too small is crushing.

When a house has a 3D tour, there us sometimes a dollhouse view of the entire house with accurate measurements for you to consider when looking at the listing.

Do Consider Buying A Newly Built Home

Have you come across a website of an up-and-coming development or a piece of land that is perfect for new construction? Are you leaning towards having a new house built rather than buying one that has been lived in? There are pros and cons to having a home built from the ground up. 

Do Use A Real Estate Agent

Assuming that just because you find the home on your own on a website, that you can go through the process without hiring a real estate agent. 

Find an agent who will help to guide you whether you are a first-time buyer or you have purchased a home before.

Do Get An Inspection

Professional home inspections are well worth the investment and time that it takes to schedule and perform them. A home inspector will be able to find issues that could end up costing you a lot in the future.

Before signing any paperwork, schedule the home inspection, because if there are any major issues, you can work into the contract that the seller must address before you buy it. And, if they do not want to repair the issues, then you can move on to the next property knowing that you dodged a bullet.

No one wants to have major issues spring upon them six months after buying a home that could have been addressed by the previous owner.  

Do Not Underestimate A House That Needs Work

Buying a handyman special can feel like the deal of a lifetime before the projects begin. This is not always the case, quite the opposite, in fact.

Remember that you will probably have to live in the home as you perform the upgrades, or have them done. That, or you will have to fix it up before you even move in.

All of this takes time and what can feel like an endless budget. A house that needs work could be the dream that you envisioned, or it could be the nightmare that you feared most.

Do Not Buy The First Home That You See

Delayed gratification can be a tough lesson to learn. Home buying can be an emotional roller coaster, but it is important to remember that you should always sleep on it before making a decision.

Buying the first home that you see is like falling in love with the first person you kiss. Sometimes it does work, but more often than not, you will want to give yourself a few options. 

Find Your Dream Home Online

More now than ever, we are doing so many things remotely, and searching for homes is definitely one of them. You can browse through, take 3D tours, and even find a real estate agent online. When you are ready for professional assistance, reach out to the friendly folks here at Hommati!