These days, buyers’ home search almost invariably begins online. In fact, 90% of home buyers search online at some point during the home buying process.
But not all home searches are created equal. Here are some tips on how to make your online home search as effective and quick as possible.
Get pre-approved for a mortgage
Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is always a good idea, as it will let you know how much you’ll qualify for in a home loan and show sellers that you’re a serious buyer.
You can do this either through a lender you already know, or ask your agent to connect you to someone. There are also fully online options available through providers like Rocket Mortgage and Better Mortgage.
Start with a budget in mind
Once you’ve got your preapproval, you’ll know exactly what your budget should be. And while any home search should begin with a solid budget in mind, it’s even more important when you’re searching online.
When you know your budget and are searching online, you can set your filters correctly to ensure you’re seeing only homes that fall within that range. This way, you’re much less likely to start falling in love with a home that would be a major stretch to afford.
Use websites to learn more about the neighborhoods you want to explore
Location, location, location—that’s what real estate has been about from the beginning of the industry, and it’s no less true today.
If you’re moving to a new town or city, chances are you won’t have a solid idea of the neighborhoods or areas you’d like to live in. This can even be the case if you’re buying in the same city you’ve lived in for years.
Talking to your real estate agent can help, but there are also websites like NeighborhoodScout and StreetAdvisor that can give you more detailed information.
When you do discover a neighborhood or area you love, you can start searching geographically for homes, narrowing down your search and making it easier to find a home you love.
Ask your real estate agent to send you listings
If you’re already working with an agent, make sure to ask them to send you listings they think you might be interested in. You may be doing plenty of online home searching, but remember that your agent has access to the MLS, which may let them see properties before they hit Zillow, Trulia, and Redfin.
Use online tools if you’re also selling a home
If you’re selling and buying at the same time, you’ll want to use some of the online tools that are available to help with planning, budgeting, and more.
For example, net proceeds calculators can help you figure out how much your net proceeds from a home sale will be once the closing costs, agent commission, and the remainder of your mortgage are accounted for.
Finally, when you’re searching online for a home, you may want to read trends reports, industry reports, and other publications like the Top Agent Insights Reports from HomeLight. This information can help throughout your home search and purchase, arming you with more knowledge to help you navigate the real estate market.
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