It’s okay to begin shopping for a new home online, but at a certain point you will need to take that search into real life. Online searches can simplify some tasks but be aware of some downfalls to spending too much time internet shopping, especially in today’s market.
Know what you want. Deciding where you want to live and the amenities that are important to you is the first step in planning a move. Do you want to be close to your children’s school or a particular park? Maybe being close to your favorite shops and restaurants is a priority. Do you prefer older homes in stately neighborhoods on tree-lined streets, or are you in favor of newer developments with custom-built homes? The internet is great for searching out your preferences, checking out crime stats and looking at aerial vistas of a specific section of town. You can even compare your area of interest with other neighborhoods.
Browsing online is convenient. The ease of browsing for a new home online at your convenience and when you have time is valuable. You don’t have to depend on a real estate agent to contact you when a home that meets your criteria comes on the market. You can take virtual home tours and find other data that is important to you while waiting for to check out at the grocery store, something that wasn’t possible even a decade ago.
Investigate before in-person walk-through. After searching through home listings from the comfort of your couch, you can ask your agent to set up personal appointments. In-person viewings of homes that have the most potential to meet your requirements will save you time and money, especially if you are planning a long-distance move.
There are some disadvantages of looking at listings online, however, so know the pitfalls to avoid heartache later.
Timing is everything. There is limited inventory of homes for sale. When a home comes on the market that meets your criteria, you need to act right away. When you hire an agent, they will see listings immediately and notify you when something matches your criteria, putting you in the best position to make a competitive offer.
Investigate thoroughly. Online shopping won’t show you if your potential home has had water damage or a termite infestation. Remember, sellers are interested in showing off the best features of the house virtually, and not the pitfalls.
Online viewing is limited. You also won’t get personal insight online. That is something you only get from a real estate agent who is most familiar researching homes and knows neighborhoods and the community. We would be honored to work with you in your home search.
Difficulty visualizing living in the home. Shopping online isn’t the same as standing in the entryway of a house, looking out the windows to the back yard and testing doors and water pressure. In-person viewing helps you visualize your family in the home and if it is the right fit for you. Homes have their own personality, and you will know when you walk in the door if it feels like you are home.
Ploys to get your personal information. Be careful of scammers. Some dishonest people will do anything to get your personal information over the internet. Verify the sites you are looking at are legitimate. Better yet, work with a well-know agent that works for a reputable brand like Keller Williams Realty Professionals.
It doesn’t get you ready to buy. If you are serious about buying a house, one of the first steps is getting pre-approved for a mortgage. Using an online mortgage calculator will not tell you how much you will qualify for, and without this knowledge, you won’t know your budget. If you are not pre-qualified, it may restrict you from putting in an offer. Considering how fast homes are selling, you definitely want every advantage in the buying process.
The internet is a great tool that can save you time and money and make it easier to search for your perfect home. But don’t rely on it to replace the knowledge of professionals and your own “gut feelings” for a house. Keep in mind nothing replaces the guidance of a reputable real estate agent and mortgage lender who can help you land the home of your dreams.