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3 Steps for Finding Your Perfect Home Online

4 Minute Read

Remember back in the day when your dream home was a page-flip away in the free rack? Yeah, we don’t either. Thirty years ago, home buyers relied solely on real estate agents to find the perfect home.

Then came the Internet.

Today, home buyers have a world of information at their fingertips—and they’re not afraid to use it. According to the National Association of Realtors, 92% of home buyers last year conducted at least part of their home search online.

So where does technology end and expertise begin?

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Local experts you can trust.

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Let’s take a look at the industry’s most common online tools and how you can use the best of both worlds to make the most of your next home purchase. In this example, we’ll follow Bob and Betty Buyer through their search process.

Start Your Search

Bob and Betty are looking for a three-bedroom home between $150,000 and $200,000. They start their search at Realtor.com. Why there? Because it’s the go-to source for the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) system every real estate agent uses to advertise homes. With updates every 15 minutes, it will give Bob and Betty the most accurate list of what’s currently available on the market.

The Buyers find all the basic nuts and bolts they need to know about a home there—from photos and features to schools and a brief property history. There’s even an option to request a free home improvements and renovations report. They make a top-10 list of their favorite homes to ensure they still have choices if any contenders get snatched up by another buyer.

Do Your History Homework

Now it’s time to dig a little deeper into the past. Bob and Betty use Zillow to conduct a background check on each home. They take notes on:

–How long—and how often—the home has been on the market
–Price changes since the seller listed the home
–The number of foreclosures in the area
–How much they can expect to pay in property taxes
–Neighboring homes that recently sold

Bob and Betty also find home value estimates on Zillow, but they know a computer can’t really factor in everything that goes into accurately pricing a home. That job calls for a pro!

The Buyers decide to pass on one home after discovering it’s in a neighborhood with a few recent foreclosures. Since Zillow doesn’t feature the latest MLS updates, Bob and Betty double-check their list on Realtor.com and find one home has already sold. With eight homes remaining, they broaden their view.

Check Out the Neighborhood

Bob and Betty are expecting their first child—but still enjoy an active lifestyle—so finding a safe neighborhood with great schools and lots of amenities is a high priority. They turn to Trulia to explore the area around each home in more detail.

Trulia’s heat map tools enable the Buyers to see how each neighborhood stacks up. Here’s what they find:

–Two homes are located in up-and-coming areas close to the city, but they have poorly ranked schools and a high incidence of theft.
–Three homes are in the top school district with no recent crimes reported but come with a longer commute.
–Three homes are zoned for good schools, have low crime ratings, and are super close to the Buyers’ favorite family hang outs, with easy access to public transit.

Bob and Betty ditch the first two homes and decide they’re ready to bring in an expert.

Get the Best Deal on the Home That’s Right for You

The Buyers know the Internet is a great place to start their search, but nothing can replace the expertise of a pro. With instant access to homes as they come on (or off) the market, a real estate agent can provide real-time updates to help Bob and Betty beat other buyers to the punch. No website can do that!

A good agent does more than schedule showings, so Bob and Betty hire the best of the best. Their agent guides them from search to success by sharing expert insight into each home’s pricing and potential, negotiating a great deal, and handling all the paperwork. When all is said and done, the Buyers feel confident knowing they made the decision that was right for them.

Are you looking for a trustworthy expert to save you time and money on your new home? We can connect you with a real estate agent who’s earned Dave’s seal of approval in your area.

Try and ELP

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