Everything happens online now, whether it’s business conferencing, entertainment, social networking, finances, or shopping. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, about 95 percent of home buyers look for their next property online. There are numerous sites that take you to a multiple listing service (MLS), where you will find data, descriptions, and very often photos of homes for sale. The status of listings can shift quickly, so it’s important to work with a real estate agent from the beginning of your search.
Even though you have the internet at your fingertips, working with an experienced real estate agent is critical. The internet gives you a broad look at what’s currently for sale, while your agent will give you all the nuances of the property, the neighborhood, and the community. She or he can answer all of your questions about the homes you are considering, including many details that are not found on an MLS. For example, if the house has been inspected recently, the results will likely not be shown on the MLS listing. If the zoning for the neighborhood is going to be changed soon or if the streets need drastic repair, that kind of information will only come from your agent. You can browse the internet all day and night, but rely on an agent when you are ready to get serious about the house you hope will be your new home.
Keep in mind that a real estate agent is usually paid through the sale of the property, which means you are not responsible for that fee. You have nothing to lose and much to gain when you hire an agent. They can guide you through the entire home-buying process. This is one of the biggest purchases you will ever make so make sure you have a skillful agent advocating and negotiating for you until the sale is complete.
When you first begin your search, however, the internet is invaluable for getting acquainted with the market and narrowing down to your favorites. There are several things to consider when you start looking for your perfect match. First, home descriptions are written in the most glowing terms that can be applied to the property. Likewise, smart sellers make sure the accompanying photos make the place look warm, roomy and as enticing as possible. Many houses have been staged to make the rooms look their best. You may be disappointed when you walk in the door and see it for yourself instead of through the camera’s flattering lens. Videos and 3D tours are being used more and more so be sure to study them. Frequently, the home’s condition is easier to see through a video than it is in still photographs.
Check out the home’s history. How long has it been on the market and has the price changed during that time? What are the property taxes? What information about the neighborhood is pertinent to your sale? For example, have there been many foreclosures of nearby houses? Are the homes on the street well cared for? Your agent will provide you with comps for the neighborhood so you can study the prices of similar houses that have sold in recent months. You will want to know about local schools, even if you don’t have children. This information will be important if you choose to sell sometime in the future. Check on crime rates for the area. Also, learn about how long you can expect the commute to work to be, whether you drive yourself or use public transportation.
You can find plenty of information and leads online, but rely on the expertise of your real estate agent to save you time and money. Your agent has access to multiple outside search engines giving them access to literally thousands of real estate websites. When you partner with someone who understands what you want in your next home, you are well on the way to finding your dream house.