Itâ€™s a vast ocean out
there. With a veritable sea of real estate listings at your fingertips,
starting your home search can be overwhelming. As a home buyer searching online
home listings for the first time, the task of navigating listing after listing
can seem daunting. It neednâ€™t be so. There are ways to make the process quick
and efficient, floating relevant listings to the surface for perusal and
leaving the rest for other buyers.
The first step to an effective search is fishing
in the right place. Itâ€™s key to go to the most comprehensive and up-to-date
site. Before the days of the World Wide Web, Realtors would perform a Multiple
Listings Service or MLS search to help find potential homes for clients. The
MLS is a database comprised of Realtor listings nationwide--a lot of information in one place, but certainly tricky to navigate without experience.
The next step is searching wise. Trawling for
listings by entering broad search parameters can be time consuming and
frustrating. Grab a pen and paper, and write down exactly what you are looking
for in a home. Itâ€™s okay to be specificâ€”you can always modify your
searches if you need to.
Start with a specific location, and assign a
preferred radius in miles. What other towns does that cover? Satellite-enabled
online mapping tools, such as the maps feature atÂ Google.com, can be a great resource throughout your search. Keeping the
site open in a separate tab while you are perusing listings allows you to
toggle between the sites quickly if you need to map a location. You can
also create and save maps if you want to view multiple locations at once (to gauge
the distance between a property and a school, for example.)
Now, write down your desired price range. Then,
your absolute max price range if you found â€œthe oneâ€. Speaking of which, jot
down the approximate square footage, bedroom and bath count in your perfect
home. This list will be helpful when you are searching listings.
Upon entering a Realtorâ€™s site, there will likely
be a broad-spectrum search, such as by state, readily available. Avoid this,
and look for the link to the Advanced Search tool. Here is where the sea
becomes manageable, and Moby Dick becomes a lot less elusive.
Enter your desired information first. Everything
you wrote down youâ€™d like to see in a home. If this yields no bites, then start
adjusting in increments. Move your location radius out five miles. Move your
desired price up by five thousand. Not too absolute on size? Omit the square
footage, bed and bath count. This method of incremental searching keeps the net
holes small. You have eliminated wading through pages of irrelevant listings,
which can take most of the time, and leave the searcher frustrated before even
viewing a listing.
Before long, thereâ€™s a few good potential listings
in the net. A few good photos inside and out are a good sign. The more
information the better: Age of the home, lot size, systems description,
history. Some listings even include neighborhood information, such as school
ratings and proximity to shopping, which can be very helpful to those who are
searching from outside the area. UtilizingÂ Google.comÂ to locate a townâ€™s public web site can help
give even more statistical and recreation info about the area.
Zillow.comÂ andÂ Trulia.comÂ are handy tools once a few good listings have
been located, and many Realtors are also present on these sites. They are
databases that keep information such as sales/rental history, taxes, assessment
value, and neighborhood trends on individual homes. Simply enter the address,
and whatever info they have will be brought up in an easy to peruse format.
Sometimes they even yield an extra photo or two.
The last step is the most important. Always seek
the guidance of a Realtor as a Buyer's Agent. A Realtor is privy to more
information, has the right experience, and can ultimately get you the most home
for your money. They may also know about newly-available properties that
havenâ€™t even been advertised yet.
Performing an online MLS search is extremely
helpful because it gives you an idea of the market, produces leads, and gives
your Realtor an idea of what you are looking for. With the information you
provide, they can captain the ship for you, expertly navigate the squalls and
shoals of real estate listings and lead you to the best possible home for you
and your family.